Vivienne Westwood at the Bread & Butter by Zalando preview event in Berlin June 8, 2017

TO BOLDLY GO:  For the second edition of Bread & Butter by Zalando coming up Sept. 1 to 3 in the Arena Berlin, the e-tailer has latched onto the motto “Bold.” But one wonders if anyone realized just how bold a move it could be to invite Dame Vivienne Westwood to air her views on the state of fashion today. This she freely did at a special Bread & Butter preview event in Berlin Thursday evening, and she’s slated to do so again during the consumer-oriented Festival of Style & Culture’s expanded program in September.

This will now include a series of panels and talks, on top of fashion shows from the likes of Hugo, G-Star, Jil Sander Navy, The Kooples and Topshop, as well as stand presentations from brands including Adidas, Converse, Fila, Hilfiger Denim, Nike, Lee, Levi’s, Puma, Reebok, Vans and Wrangler. These often-interactive displays will be organized in three sections: Fashion, Active and Urban. At the platform’s debut last September, 20,000 consumers flocked to the arena, while another 6.6 million live-streamed the goings-on.

That’s Westwood’s potential audience for her oft-stated mantra of “Buy less, choose better and make it last.” So far, so good, and Thursday’s 400 guests clapped in approval. However, one could practically hear the collective gulp of the Zalando team members present as Westwood then urged, “So this season, don’t buy anything.”

“If you want to be bold, you have to make a choice. And at least 50 percent of the people in the world have never made a choice or decision in their lives. They just follow their desire, and consume: opinions, McDonald’s, whatever,” she remarked.

“Buying less and choosing quality means that designers can make better fashion, not just lead by marketing and commercial interests,” she continued. “Fashion is part of culture, but not at the moment. Sorry, Zalando,” she said with a straight face. “It’s part of consumption.”

Zalando cofounder and management board member David Schneider took things in stride. Asked if he felt queasy about Westwood’s repeat performance at B&B in the fall, he told WWD, “It’s good to have something you can’t foresee.”

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