Designer Vivienne Westwood shuns expansion, big wardrobes

MILAN Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:42pm EDT

British designer Vivienne Westwood (R) appears next to her husband Andreas Kronthaler at the end of her Fall-Winter 2013/2014 women's ready-to-wear fashion collection during Paris Fashion Week March 2, 2013. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

British designer Vivienne Westwood (R) appears next to her husband Andreas Kronthaler at the end of her Fall-Winter 2013/2014 women's ready-to-wear fashion collection during Paris Fashion Week March 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

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MILAN (Reuters) - British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood said on Monday that she has no plans to further expand in China and defended the high prices of her designs as a way to encourage customers to buy fewer clothes.

Westwood, who started selling clothes in London in the swinging 60s and now has shops in 15 other countries, said she is assessing her company, its operations and its aims.

"I want to backtrack and control it," Westwood said before showing her men's spring/summer 2014 collection in Milan. "I don't want to expand in China anymore at the moment."

Westwood, an environmental activist, said she has turned her attention to her supply chain, starting with the material used to make the protest T-shirts that have become a feature of her shows.

"We do a lot of T-shirts and at least I've managed to get the jersey that we use for the T-shirts, which comes from Peru mostly. It's organic and it's not harmful," she said.

For the Milan show, staff and some models wore T-shirts supporting U.S. Army private Bradley Manning, who is accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of classified files, videos and other data to the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website.

A romantic idea of India, which was chosen by her husband and creative director, Andreas Kronthaler, is the theme of the show, which featured Harem-style trousers, kaftans and chunky necklaces along with military berets.

Westwood, dressed in a grey sequined dress she had worn before, said she hoped other fashion icons such as Britain's Queen Elizabeth and the duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, would also re-wear their clothes.

The designer added that she isn't worried about people's changing habits squeezing her profits.

"If people like my clothes, it's good if they don't buy things for six months, then they'll be able to afford them," she said.

Westwood defended the cost of her designs, which carry high price tags, with a man's suit costing about 800 pounds ($1,200).

"I think it's ecologically friendly that the clothes should be expensive," she added.

($1 = 0.6495 British pounds)

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Steve Orlofsky)

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