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London, United Kingdom – Lily Cole once stood on the side of every bus, leading the biggest fashion campaigns in the industry. But the more time Cole spent in the industry, the more she became aware of widespread problems and structural inequalities that underpin the glamorous facade. She cut back on modeling and instead prioritized working on improving the fashion system from within.
On the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, Lily Cole speaks to BoF founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed about the lessons she learned while writing her new book Who Cares Wins: Reasons For Optimism in Our Changing World, published by Penguin. a call to action that emphasizes the importance of optimism and cooperation in times of uncertainty.
- The fashion industry must grapple with the role consumer culture plays in maintaining social, environmental and ethical issues. “There is a practical need for new things that we don’t want to shut down completely, so while we make it in a better way,” Cole said. “Could we just as well come up with new business models where people don’t have to buy new things to make them economically sustainable?” Think of more transparent supply chains or the use of a circular business model.
- The way progress is measured also needs to be reconsidered. Economic growth must be replaced by alternative measures such as happiness, health and ecological well-being. “It’s more about quality than quantity … about loving material things more,” Cole told Amed. “The more you love something, the more you respect it.” For consumers, buying fewer, higher-value products means less waste and also places more emphasis on the craftsmanship of each garment.
- Cole is optimistic about the future generation of consumers who place more emphasis on sustainability. When the scandal broke that Boohoo paid workers less than the minimum wage, for example, the ultra-fast fashion e-tailer’s stock price plummeted. This, Cole said, indicates that the market expects consumers to stop shopping at unethical brands. “It’s a tangible reflection that people care when they get information,” she said.
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