William Pine and Laura Hemming-Lowe went to London’s newest church, Westfield Shopping Centre, to speak to the people about consumerism and religious experiences.
Meet Edward, 18, who also goes by the name Verbal in the music scene and is “kind of Christian.” He says shopping makes him happy and he “only has ten pairs of trainers.” He thinks big brands like Rocawear are associated with the wrong type of people and that Primark is a factory using kids to make the clothes. He thinks Westfield is a nice place to bring different communities together in a peaceful way.
Raz, a hostess and security guard, has traveled from Bournemouth to spend her day in Westfield. Raz says shopping makes her happy and Westfield is cosmopolitan, beautiful and fantastic and thinks we need more places like it. Asked if she is religious she sternly replied “No!”
Alison and Katie
Alison and Katie admit that consumerism is getting out of control. Katie has just spent £40 on a t-shirt much to the shock of her friends. “You want what you need,” Alison says. “I’m a female with money in my pocket - of course I love shopping!” They think Westfield is spacious and very good and don’t worry about where their purchases are made.
James, 25, is here because of his ‘missus’. He says Westfield makes him feel sad, poor and worried about the credit crunch, but he still thinks it’s fantastic. He buys when he needs and his favourite things in life are fixing vehicles and the “occasional tweak around with the missus.” On Sundays he goes to church.
Arlon can’t get enough of shopping malls. She says, “Anyone who says money can’t buy you happiness hasn’t been to the right shop!” She is 100 percent not religious but admits she could be a religious shopper. Her friend says shopping makes her euphoric.
Aspiring fashion designer Ellie is not sure if she is religious or not. She has spent £290 today at Topshop. “I don’t go to Primark - my brother says they have slave trade.” She loves Westfield, but thinks it’s too crowded and makes her feel cramped.
Ray is 80 years old and has been to Westfield three times in a week for his prescriptions. He is a Buddhist. He often thinks about how lucky we are in Britain. He sees Westfield as a sign of our human evolution and it makes him feel like he is in a “very pleasant science fiction dream.” He wishes he had more money to spend and becomes tearful with joy when talking about Barack Obama.
Thank god we met Ray at the end of the day. Our total expenditure of the day was around £25 including Laura’s new tights and our lunch. If you want to be fashionable, or ethical do not go to Westfield. Buy second hand or source ethical and environmentally friendly clothing companies such as American Apparrel or Katharine E Hamnett.