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#202 - How Fashion Can Make Sustainability Fashionable with Lucy Shea of Futerra

December 21, 2021

#202 - How Fashion Can Make Sustainability Fashionable with Lucy Shea of Futerra
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Lucy Shea is the CEO of Futerra, a change agency focused on creative strategies that bring sustainability to the forefront of business. In this episode, learn more about sustainability in the fashion industry and why the fashion industry plays such an important role in the ongoing fight for change.

We still have a long way to go in terms of sustainability in fashion, but there are solutions!

Not only that, there is an increasing number of brands and organizations actively working towards change.

Today were back with another installment of our series on the Impact of Fashion with our partner, Dhana. Joining us is Lucy Shea, CEO of the change agency, Futerra, to talk about sustainability in the fashion industry and why the fashion industry matters.

Lucy is an expert in the business of climate action and sustainable lifestyles and has advised clients such as Tommy Hilfiger, Unilever, Sky, and the World Wildlife Foundation. She radically reimagined garment recycling over a decade ago by creating the global clothes swapping movement, Swishing.

In our conversation with Lucy, She shares her thoughts on what she believes to be the most effective and respectful route towards change, and why she considers a living wage to be an absolute necessity for the future of our planet.

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  • The core of the work Futerra does towards sustainable development.
  • Lucy’s love for fashion and the issues that drew her to work on sustainability in the industry.
  • Why the fashion industry matters: fashion sets the agenda and can make sustainability fashionable.
  • The definition of sustainable clothing and Lucy’s utopian vision of sustainable fashion.
  • The need for clothing circulation to be built into the fashion industry.
  • The most effective and respectful route towards change, according to Lucy.   
  • The rate of change and Gen Z consumer demands. 
  • What Lucy feels needs to change and be uplifted in the fashion industry. 
  • What’s holding larger brands back from uplifting the sentiment of sustainability. 
  • Which brands are becoming part of the solution and what they’re doing to accelerate change. 
  • Lucy shares her view on the need for a living wage and all the subsequent benefits for women.
  • The involvement of women and girls in the solution for climate change.
  • How smaller brands striving for sustainability are emblematic of where the industry is going.
  • Lucy’s top picks of small sustainable brands and organizations.
  • What Lucy is optimistic about in the future of sustainable fashion.
  • Swishing: what it is; how and why she founded it; how it popularized second-hand clothing.
  • Example of Futerra’s work in filling gaps in the sustainability market. 







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Lucy Shea  0:00  

If you're there, you know putting a little toehold into this market. But thinking about where to make a better big jump, get together with your board and think about who your, you know, sustainable competitor is who's your competitor that will still be here in another 10 or 15 years with new products and services that are right, this new context that will match these new audiences and what they desire. So I think it needs some Willie as a bridge would say.

Cory Ames  0:33

Hey, y'all, it's Cory here with the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcasts, always grateful to have you listening in. And today we're back with another installment of our series on the impact of fashion. And today we're speaking with Lucy Shea, the CEO of Futerra, the change agency, Lucy joined the business in 2003. And since then, it's grown from a startup of five to a global agency with teams in London, New York and Stockholm. Today, Lucy and I are talking about sustainability in the fashion industry and why the fashion industry matters. Why the fashion industry is such an important point of focus in priority in the context that we live in in the world today. Lucy is an expert in the business of climate action and sustainable lifestyles. She's advised clients such as Tommy Hilfiger, Unilever, sky and the World Wildlife Foundation. She radically reimagined garment recycling over a decade ago by creating swishing the global clothes swapping movement. She was also a founding member of the UN sustainable lifestyles Task Force in 2005. When she authored communicating sustainability, in this special UN Environment Program Reports has been downloaded over 1 million times. And remains one of the organization's most read reports. I think you'll enjoy this conversation I had here with Lucy I know I did myself but before we dive in, too, I want to invite you to sign up for the better world weekly newsletter, which is our weekly newsletter that I write curate published myself, send out every single Monday. We now have near 3300 folks receiving this email in their inbox every single Monday. Go to grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter, to join in on that discussion of all that it takes to leave the world a better place than we found. Its grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter. Alright y'all. Without further ado, here is Lucy Shea.

Lucy Shea  2:46 

Thanks, Cory. I'm so pleased to be here on the podcast I'd like to get started. I'm Lucy Shea. I am the Group CEO of Futerra. And I'm based in the UK but Futerra has offices in London, New York stock on Mexico. And we've got about 60 people. We've been going for about 20 years. So that's me.

Cory Ames  3:07
Wonderful. And if you wouldn't mind so that we could understand a bit more as to the angle which we're coming to this context of speaking of fashion, and I know that your food there have worked with a few notable clients in the fashion industry, Tommy Hilfiger, I saw Rei. And as well perhaps gap, what is the core of the work that y'all do so that we can paint a picture as to how you're coming to this space of fashion.

Lucy Shea  3:32  

So the core of Futerra. At the moment, there's some things to follow, which I'll tell you about. But the core of Futerra's work at the moment is as a change agency. So we work with those big brands, some of which you mentioned, also some smaller brands such as E canal, and also big not for profits, like the loudest Foundation, which used to be the CMA foundation in the fashion space. To make change happen. We put together the logic of sustainability, understanding where the brand, or business or foundations really material issues, sit down important issues, but then also apply the magic of creative. So whether that's coming up with a big idea that can sit at the heart of the brand, or the business strategy, or coming up with an amazing way of naming a platform or branding, a new business venture, or creating a website where everyone can swap things or whatever it may be. That's what we do. We put magic and logic together to create change. All in the pursuit of sustainable development that is in articles we're legally bound. As a fellow B corp member we are legally bound to create to work towards sustainable development.

Cory Ames  4:49  

Thank you for that and maybe you wouldn't expect that this would be where we go first. But I know that fashion has inspired you personally for a lot of the work that You do. And that's come to be shown in a lot of the initiatives you've been a part of through Fonterra, and outside of that, and so I would love to know, Lucy, perhaps with the context that we're in in the world today. Why do you feel like fashion in the fashion industry are so important to focus on?

Lucy Shea  5:18  

So exactly, because Futerra, as a business actually focuses on many sectors, not just fashion tech, as well, you've got Google as one of our clients and a food a lot as well. I've always been particularly drawn to fashion because I think, as I'm sure other your podcasts will cover, it's got some really big problems. It's got some really big issues socially, environmentally, how makes people feel about ourselves, how it drives in not helpful behaviors in terms of overconsumption, not being particularly good about yourself, how to look in a piece of clothing, etc, let alone living wage pollution. So the list of issues with fashion is endless and improving somewhat in industry, but not fast enough. However, I found myself liking particularly in this area of sustainability, because I love fashion. I don't have a lot to smell up, but I love fashion. And before I found myself liking sustainability, that was much more how I identified I, you know, I Oh, I've spent a lot of my time thinking about what to wear and how to stop myself, I have an older sister who I looked up to quite a lot of hair is very stylish, and how can I be like her. And so when I came to work in sustainability, which you know, it's not like I just fell into it, there was a huge driver for that as well, particularly on social justice, kind of the original reason I found myself in this space. I felt guilty. And like that, I couldn't reconcile where I was working my professional life and kind of how I felt as a person, my personal life. So I thought, well, go do something about this. So that's when I first worked a few Tara worked with a couple of organizations to set up the UK, I think that's the world first sustainable Fashion Awards, the ethical fashion awards. It's why we started swishing just the glamorous clothes, recycling parties. And it's why I joined forces with the amazing team with Fashion Revolution to help that get off the ground. And it's why ultimately, we've ended up working with so many of the, you know, leaders in this field. Because, yes, it's got all these issues, but it's a huge employer of women in particular all around the world. And it is one of the makers of manners, fashion, sets the agenda, fashion set style, fashion can make sustainability fashionable. And this is kind of not exactly a cliche, but something that people talk about a lot now. But when we were kind of starting out in this space that wasn't spoken about. And in fact, when we're really starting out in this space, when Tutera was a sustainability comms agency, the notion that you would use persuasion behavior change, you know, sexiness in terms of clothes in order to sell sustainability was anathema. It was very controversial. We're not there anymore. Thank goodness. So that's why fashion has a lot of problems to solve. But it's also a great tool change maker or potential change maker.

Cory Ames  8:40  

I certainly agree with you. And that's been well apparent in many of the interviews that we've had here in this series. A fashion is an extremely impactful industry, for better or for worse. That's an interesting perspective that I haven't yet heard. From the perspective of fashion, then kind of being the leader for perhaps other items, you know, and other kinds of consumer goods in one way or another. It starts to feel a bit more incongruent, I guess, if you're wearing, you know, items in garments that are made sustainably or represent perhaps what's sustainable fashion. And then other things in your life aren't you know, that fashion, and clothes are things that we engage with every single day, we mindfully think about that or not. But I really appreciate that perspective, Lucy in speaking to sustainable fashion. Generally, this is something that is not defined so explicitly. And I think that Well, folks may have different angles and viewpoints as to what is sustainable fashion, going through the exercise of trying to define it and paint a picture I think is pretty important in part of what we're doing here at this content. And so I'd love to hear from your perspective, what is something of the utopian vision or Ideal for what sustainable fashion is to you in a sustainable fashion industry looks like.

Lucy Shea  10:05  

A great question. And I couldn't agree more about that piece around the incongruency. Marketers have this thing called the corridor. It's why if you get you know, a new family on to organic baby foods, you might actually be able to flip them on to organic food on choices or sustainable choices elsewhere. So okay, definition of sustainable clothing, I might go there first, I like to quote my friend or solider Castro here and say, the most sustainable item is the one you already own, the one that's already in your wardrobe. So keeping hold of your clothes, loving them for longer, not buying new is still probably the biggest impact you can have. It doesn't necessarily speak though, to where everyone is in the life stage. You know, I think that's how am I, I'm 43. Now I've got all the codes, I've built up a lot of clothes. over my lifetime, it's a little bit easier for me to do that, then, you know, a young kid who's you know, pandemic allowing wanting to go out and wear something different and something new, every Friday night or whatever night it is the kids go out on nowadays. So there, I am really a fan of even the kind of the big, fast fashion brands who are trying to create, perhaps still incremental, but change at scale. So I think what we need to get to, is that no matter who you are, how you use fashion, what you use it for, the impacts of it have been managed for you really. So if you want to wear a different dress, top, you know, pantsuit every week, those issues have been managed for you that they are within a surplus system. And that circular system has had a just transition so that folks within it have been looked after paid, well empowered, trained up to, you know, read and write, send kids to you name, whatever pace. So I'm sorry, that might be quite simplistic answers just one way everything's fixed. But I guess that would be my definition.

Cory Ames  12:21
That's interesting. I think, I guess in that definition, I'd love to hear if there's follow up on it. It seems as if, from your perspective, you know, the consumption habits? They don't know. I mean, if if they didn't change, that would be okay, provided that perhaps circularity is something that's already built into the system in the industry?

Lucy Shea  12:40
Yeah, I believe that quite strongly. And it goes to there's a bit of debate, it's a bit less current now. But it's had been debate kind of raging for a long time within the sustainability community that we need to change who people are, we need to change people's values and the sun valleys are good and some valleys of bad and the desire to consume is bad and should be punished. And I don't believe that. I mean, I think there's an interesting argument that says, How can we make lower consumption behaviors, higher status, but the desire to consume is not necessarily bad. It's the impacts of consumption, we have a problem with I mean, wanting to look good and why something nice is it's okay, that's kind of how the evolutionary programmed. So and also, I don't think we've got the time in the window of change that we have to avoid stuff, climate change, and yeah, as quickly as possible, make the system more equitable. You know, that's a big, I'm not saying we don't need big systems change. But that's a big values change, I think it's going to take us too long to get to, if ever, it's possible. So I think changing the system so that the impacts of our desires are managed, is a more like more respectful, and probably more possible way of getting to where we need to get to.

Cory Ames  14:04  

Yeah, there's a balance between the focus and prioritization of individual action, as opposed to looking maybe where are the largest levers of change. And so probably looking at the buckets of where the greatest impact is made, as opposed to, you know, if someone was to reverse and change their habits, extremely not to say that people shouldn't be considering these things in an aware to those, there can be a lot much greater change made if we're looking at h&m and how they produce clothing and the supply chain and how that affects people in the planet along with it. And so, Lucy, we've mentioned a few perhaps points of resistance and barriers. At the top. He said, we're not moving fast enough to this world of sustainable fashion. What is your assessment of the progress for us? What kind of pace Do you feel like we're on?

Lucy Shea  14:55  

Okay, so I think there's been an enormous amount of change. If I think back to Pray Rana Plaza, that obviously, a terrible tragedy of which there had been many other tragedies, and there have been many since. But that was one, I think, partly because of Fashion Revolution, that for other drivers as well, that really hit home for the industry. And so I think since then we've seen enormous change, you know, the number of packs and, you know, collaborations and netzero commitments and some progress on living wage. And the consumer has, I mean, transformed over the last particularly last five years or so. And consumers are research, if you terror around the honest generation and on his product shows that totally Gen Z, do not feel that brands are being honest with them, and are not content with kind of big brand purpose and statements they want to see. Change them as they change a product level, they will see information at product level, they want to know, you know, not how you as a business to do it. But how am I doing? And therefore, what is it what the product that I'm buying? Does it help me lead a more sustainable lifestyle or, you know, be a better person, whatever it may be. So I think, honestly, I feel fashion is still really struggling to be part of the solution. There's been enormous change, but I don't really think he could point to any brand at scale and say, but it's sorted or that you can see the plan on how they're going to get there. And it's going to be equitable, it's going to be circular. I mean, there's many that are put, I mean, you know, some of our clients included and put these, you know, great strategies and plans into place. And you can see Adidas and plastic and their poly shoe, you can see Tommy Hilfiger, one of our clients with their enormous mission to welcome on and waste nothing, and to create circular business models with Tommy for life. But in terms of where we need to get to where consumer demand is, we have a long way to go with the rest of the industry. And I'd love to see it move quicker. I'd love to see some of the marketing data that goes into promoting an asset. There's no problem with consumption. Some of the marketing dollar that goes into promoting a huge consumption and also lack of self worth and self esteem, being repurposed into more sustainable forms of consumption, sustainable materials take back subscription. It's all there. It just needs to be uplifted really.

Cory Ames  17:28
That's as well as sentiment. That's reiterated there's a lot of exciting things happening in fashion. That drawback in those scenarios in those contexts is it seems to be the smaller brands, first off who are leading the way, but what's holding us back from uplifting the sentiment of sustainability in those contexts of scale with those larger brands like what are the largest barriers that are keeping us in this industry from moving as fast as we should.

Lucy Shea  17:54  

So I've been involved in the UN f triple seen passion charter for a while now on the steering committee and as part of the commons working group. And so we've just had this huge consultation periods led by the comms working group, Rachel Arthur, and asking that very question. Actually, we don't need to get what's holding us back. One of the things that came up was fear actually theragun it wrong? Fair. There not been a business model, fair greenwash, we've got new guidance out and brainwashed recently from the UK Competition and Markets Authority. Fear of it costing more and often it does actually in the short term, there are pandemics those closing. So I think there's a there's a lot of fear around. And, you know, if I was going to be speak bluntly, as well, I think that there often isn't very good comms put into this. I mean, I know I didn't come from agencies, but this might sound slightly self serving, but a lot of the marketing or advertising or Yeah, the cell that gets put around this is pretty poor, from the mainstream agencies and kind of small wonder because a lot of them are in the pockets of the fossil fuel companies and have, you know, a lot to gain from remaining part of the status quo and the kind of oil based economy. So what would change it, ending the patriarchy seeing some serious social change going on that gets the kind of businesses and brands to really sit up and go, Okay, this is where we now need to putting our serious investment, like what would my colleague Sally talks about this, like, invent your competitor? If you're there, you know, putting a little toehold into this market, but thinking about where to make a big better big jump, get together with your board and think about who your you know, sustainable competitor is who's your competitor that will still be here and another 10 or 15 years with new products and services that are right, this new context that will meet these new audiences and what they desire. So I think it needs some Willie as a practical sense Say the leadership,

Cory Ames  20:01  

what brands at scale? And I know we've covered a couple of your clients already, but What brands do you see in fashion? At scale? Really? Mike packing that punch from a communication standpoint? Are there examples that you think should be admired? And perhaps followed? Or is it still pretty thin and sparse? And just not there? At all? Yeah.

Lucy Shea  20:26  

So we've been looking at this, and with some intention recently at Pitera, and figuring out which brands are becoming part of the solution, which brands are actually both creating change, but also helping their consumers be part of the solution as well. And we found that there's a nifty little formula. So rather than kind of saying, you know, here's my scorecard, and some people are gonna say, what we found is there's what we're calling become the known and trusted triangle. And the brands that are doing really well, or business that are doing really well are those that marry a stand up goal. So a big promise, something that will actually shift things that everyone adopted it, but kind of be partway there. Particularly if it's one of the first you know, first of its kind, but marries that with a breakthrough activation, because that brings consumers and also your entire employee base along with you. So I mentioned the idea with their kind of end plastic waste, I mean, that's a good one, they've got a goal to get rid of all youth. So let's get rid of all virgin plastic use of virgin plastic by 2022. And then they have their poly collection, which is made with them, you know, economic basically. So plastics from the ocean. So that's good. Again, I point to Tommy with their welcome on and waste, nothing. I've mentioned there, Tommy for life, which is every commerce platform. But also they have an amazing range of adaptive clothing, which is designed for people of different abilities. And it's got a great personal story like Tommy son as a different ability, basically. So it's really kind of come from who the brand is and what it's about. But it means when you see the come, well, what do you mean by welcome, or you can actually shop the collection as well, doesn't need to be a collection, it could be a behavior change campaign, it could be an advocacy campaign, but I think those that put together a really breakthrough goal that will change things, and then cleverly packaged that up with a piece of comms that consumers actually can see and partake in, then the whole thing starts to come together as the magic and the logic as we call it future. But it's the whole thing starts to really tell a story and could accelerate further change. Hmm.

Cory Ames  22:32  

So Lucy, I'm wondering, Where do you feel like there's the greatest need for catalyzing change in this ecosystem? Is it from? I mean, I know you work quite intimately with businesses in this space. But do you also see it as something legislative, you know, from the government, regulatory side? Consumers? I mean, I know everyone is involved, to some extent and has responsibility and accountability. But where do you see there needing to be the first kind of greatest driver? I think

Lucy Shea  23:05  

I touched on ever so briefly, I mentioned earlier, but I think living wage needs addressing, it's just not on, it's not often that, you know, if you kind of go back to kind of where sustainability started, the idea that you would take responsibility for your supply chain, and their let's take it back to environment and their emissions was, you know, 1015 20 years ago anathema. What do you mean, I run my business, and they shouldn't ask about what happens here. That's my fellow entrepreneurs responsibility, and that we've moved to this, you know, scope, one, two, and three, that actually you do need to be responsible for your carbon emissions, both upstream and downstream. I think we need a similar framework, energy that has the amazing X initiative, which is making change at a kind of country by country basis. But we need more of that we need more brands to join, act and to participate with full energy. I was encouraged to see Primark put out the other day that they are going to be really moving on living wage get to be seen as they do it. But it's, I think, a bold move from a brand at that price point. There's so much, you know, based on the UK, and we have, we're out of the European Union. There's amazing things happen an EU level, and most recently in California with the garment workers collective bill, so I'm not an expert in the policy framework. But using all the policy frameworks that we have at our disposal, to make living wage a reality has to happen. And it's an opener to everything else to female empowerment, educated women and empowered women, you know, looping back around from the social justice officer equities turn now to climate change, you know, two of the top solutions and project drawdown. So the top solutions to climate change involve women and girls, education of girls and assistance for in their reproductive health and birth control. And all of that becomes much more unlocked when you have meaningful and well paid employment. So my backing at the moment is on living wage, we've got to get there, there's a little bit of a head of steam happening, and we need to see that accelerate.

Cory Ames  25:31
That's really interesting. It makes so much sense as it being the lead domino that makes everything else easier. You know, if I mean, we we've seen in this has been reported on for quite some time that poverty for one is is expensive. Poverty for one is in addition is unsustainable. And so that is such a clear, easy first path, that solution seems to be the easiest, at least to me. looking from the outside in, and most clear as so many of the concepts and definitions of sustainability and circularity are still a bit of a work in progress. And as well, just reflecting on it right now, in my understanding of the fashion industry and tracking the news and updates much more closely as we've laid, it seems to be a bit more of a blip in the conversation, as opposed to the more direct focus on the environmental impact.

Lucy Shea  26:27
Yeah, yeah. 100%, it wasn't, you couldn't get it on the agenda before. It just couldn't. And again, I kind of I really applaud act. And you know, PVH was the parent company of Tommy Hilfiger, you know, brands such as those joining coming on to act and really give it some energy. But then you couldn't you couldn't make it part of the sustainability strategy or even a business strategy before and that's starting to change.

Cory Ames  26:54  

It was really refreshing to see what happened in California, and many people in the sustainable fashion community, obviously celebrating that. But even the news of that, to me, I felt a little bit kind of late to the game. I'm like, wow, you know, I'm knowing about this, as it's just sort of becoming up for vote, as opposed to I mean, and that's certainly something that many of the advocates in that space in that state had been working on for a significant amount of time. So hopefully, that continues the momentum. And I imagine it will, there are some really could people in this, this, were making sure that that will be the case.

Lucy Shea  27:29  

And kind of funny, for that it's great for putting down legislation that then is proof of concept and other jurisdictions can follow. You know, it wasn't the first but they Regional Greenhouse Gas trading initiative, but it was one of the first and it really paved the way for others that he used to take it up, etc. So yeah, I've got high hopes,

Cory Ames  27:51
right, just aiming outside of the direct impact, it can be at a minimum symbolic and momentum for you know, what can happen in the US context in other states, I know that New York is another as far as our concentration of where garment workers are New York is another state that would be a focus and if it can be passed in California, perhaps there as well. Lucia, I'm curious with your expertise, as I know that there are so many small midsize, very exciting and innovative brands in the space of sustainable fashion. You've taken some really unique initiatives on created some really compelling products and stories. What would you recommend for them to help become perhaps a greater amplifier of their message of the narrative? How might you recommend a punch above their weight, so to speak, if we are you know, waiting for or hopefully attempting to nudge the industry players who have the much greater scale? How can smaller brands in organizations perhaps punch a little bit higher?

Lucy Shea  28:54  

I mean, that one sounds unambitious. I'd also say just keep doing what they're doing. I realize I've spoken a lot about big brands and not so much about the kind of smaller players but that's why the big a lot of the time act, I mean, not the only reason but you know, the honest brands that kind of the fast growth entrance at the ones that pioneer different use of materials or cutting or payment of their workers or whatever it may be, give a proof of concept, but also can be exceptionally good at messaging and exceptionally good at branding. So rather than kind of sit here and give a lot of kind of tips on how to best brand or communicate or you know, be an advocate. I'd actually say it's happening really well. You know, whether it's on traceability and transparency, I mean reclamation Everlane all birds, you know, always named but there's others are the New Zealand bull brand which has the barcode and things like that and it's emblematic. of where the industry is going. And not just in fashion, but in other sectors as well in FMCG, a lot of the pressure for innovation and change comes from looking at the new entrants to the market, and comes from the new entrants are starting to eat the big brands lunch. So, you know, hopefully, we should be able to get to this, you know, really virtuous circle where innovation spurs innovation, and we can get to a brilliant system, but I think the smaller brands are doing amazingly at that. And I know it's tough out there. And there's a smaller brand, you don't have control of your supply chain. So it can be hard to make change across every single area or touch point. So I think continue doing what these brands often do, which is lean into a particular attribute or kind of point of brand interests. Whether that being Yeah, as a safe choice of material or social cause, or, you know, circular model and some tape back. So rather applaud and say, keep going, where they're going necessary, do anything different.

Cory Ames  31:12
I love that sentiment, I think it just comes or perhaps that question comes from my, I almost feel a little bit angry or resentful when I feel like I found out about a very exciting and cool and compelling brand. And then I think to myself, like why haven't I known about them earlier? Yeah. And then yeah, as an evangelist myself, like, that's kind of my attitude and approach and like, Well, I gotta tell everyone else about him, you know, because no one else knows.

Lucy Shea  31:38  

Yeah, I can I get your image because I've been asked the question pretty differently. And so Michael of my favorite top picks, if you like a lovely leso lessers this kind of leso is this life that I don't have, it's kind of like at the beach where crews amazing stories, amazing materials just look and feel like great. I love the sphere, and the amazing creative platform and storytelling that doesn't just waiting just by going to things I love that. I personally because like anyone we've had a everyone even we've had a whole move outside. And you know, more swimming and more being active, I've got ready to finish their UK brand on the southern court on Cornwall coast, I think. And they kind of have the dry robes if you didn't get changed outside and just really great trousers, which I now wear the whole time. And then I'd also point to common objective or CO as they're called. So it's headed up by a woman called Tamsin version for disclosure, I still on the board, I'm not anymore. But that's what they do. They are kind of a marketplace. And they match the individual the consumer to and that's how I found out about the leso. Actually, I was attempting it to get a really good dress for a wedding. And I don't actually have anything in my wardrobe that is going to do. I've been sweating. I haven't found the right thing to subtitle. So she was right. So the platform is like to me it's like Tamsin but on a digital scale. So the idea is that as an individual, you can go on and find amazing brands, but also working in the industry, if you're looking for a specific material or a supplier or a brand to sell to is designed to match make as well. So I would say take a look at that.

Cory Ames  33:29  

Lovely recommendations, Lucy. So those are some bright spots that we're talking about in fashion right there. And we've covered others in different bits and spurts in this conversation already. I'm wondering maybe more so directly, what has you most hopeful and perhaps inspired and optimistic for the future of fashion and sustainable fashion? Particularly,

Lucy Shea  33:49  

I? Well, the way that so I'll rewind a little bit and go back to when we coined the term swishing, which was, oh my goodness back in, I think 2008 or nine. And at the time, you know, plate swaps existed, they definitely existed, they did not exist online. There was no Depop or, you know, thread app or any of that. And they were definitely seem to be a green and low status thing to do. So that's why we kind of gave it the name, made a lot of website, did a couple of parties with you know, some journalists from Vogue and Tumblr and others and just saw this whole thing take off. And, you know, we never made any money from it. We didn't try to either put a business model around it, we just did it because we liked it. It's really as a way of showing that more sustainable can be better, you know, substitution, not sacrifice as a friend of mine, who runs a sustainability agency over in Australia Procurve everyone then calls it the law of more than ever You can get more from a sustainable choice, especially party, you can get free clothes, but also have a party and meet people and come away with something you'd never get into shops and get people to advise you on Oh, this thing would look great on you. So the whole kind of, you know, social currency and, you know, make it fun if you want it done. We'll say so. And now swishing almost seems really old hat a little bit dated. Now, I still sort of don't worry about not saying if you're doing swishing, or how terribly old school, but it's really in some ways not needed anymore because of Depop thread up big brands coming on board. So, of course, we're not there. We're not there in terms of a secular system. But the way that in less than a decade, something like swishing was needed in order to pop her eyes, secondhand, basically, get rid of some of those chips and shoulders that people have about, oh, you know, that's not for me, that gives me hope, and solutions, I feel in sustainable fashion and more widely in the run up to COP, we're seeing more and more the idea that we need to help them persuade folks to be more sustainable to be kind of coming down. And the idea that we just need to get on and do it, and provide the solutions and people will use them and people will come and people buy them. I see that starting to take hold a little bit more. So that gives me hope we can see what all the solutions need to be yet but that doesn't.

Cory Ames  36:35
Yeah, it seems as if there's it's a more of a supply issue. And it's divided. It's often and my wife and I have these conversations on a daily basis from whatever it is that we're doing whatever the activity might be. There's always like, Oh, I wish there was this, you know, from something that would hopefully, you know, mitigate or lower our own personal impact. And when we come across the solution that we were designing or like that feeling of I wish I had it sooner. That is I like looking at it from that way, because it can sometimes be very easy to go down more of a cynical path in that light.

Lucy Shea  37:13  

There's one more thing I've just got to tell you, which is Peter, the change agencies actually changing. To do that. Actually, we've got a few Terra mates launching. So our first product in that kind of If only there was we went into partnership with our client Mars to bring to market and insect based cat food. So first in the UK, and set cat food or is it first globally. One of the first inset cat foods are called lovebug. So the idea being you know, Kathy insects anyway, let's give them some things. And they'll be more of those. And the other thing that we're doing is setting up our not for profit to lean into culture change, and actually creating solutions for people to see themselves more at the heart of climate action and climate change and equity and all these things. So yeah, solutions, more of those.

Cory Ames  38:07  

We certainly do. Lucy, thank you so much for taking the time. I want to be respectful of it. But before we wrap up, he might if I hit you with a couple rapid fire questions. Oh, yeah, yeah, go. Alright, so first, what's maybe a book film or any resource really, that? If someone was interested in diving deeper into the topics we discussed today, what might you recommend that they check out or dive into

Lucy Shea  38:31  

a sustainable fashion? An author, who I think is really good is Kate Fletcher. She's got a few pieces out more widely. I read. It's available online and there's a kind of a coffee table book the project drawdown and the top 100 solutions to climate change. Always tears you up. And I find there's another but that's it for the moment.

Cory Ames  38:54  

Have you picked up Paul Hawkins new book regeneration by chance?

Lucy Shea  38:59  

I haven't yet. Is it good?

Cory Ames  39:01  

I'm working through it right now. I will actually be speaking to him on the podcast here in about a month. 

Lucy Shea  39:06  

So that's pretty Oh, what am I talking about? Also, another recommendation is Hero by my colleague, Solitaire Townsend and also green giants by my other colleague variable. Yes.

Cory Ames  39:19

 Lovely recommendations on next one for you. Is there any particular daily habit or morning routine that you feel like you have to stick to?

Lucy Shea  39:31
Just loving because I've got two young kids the constant battle we have good mornings and not my happiest chaos. But what I do what I have, I've taken out and I hope to keep going is swimming outside of the LIDAR in a way of like bringing myself back down. After the whole

Cory Ames  40:04  

How are you gonna keep it going into winter?

Lucy Shea  40:06
Planning to really well I've got my neoprene hat so far. I've ordered the little booties and I tried to go last through, I'm just going to try and keep going as long as I can.

Cory Ames  40:18  

Well, awesome. Well, last one for you, Lucy, our listeners here are social entrepreneurs and changemakers all over the world from all different sectors. I'm curious what's one piece of advice that you could leave our listeners with?

Lucy Shea  40:33  

Everything's gonna be okay. Stay positive. And keep going like we are gonna make it and find solutions. And you know, look for them, work on them. Tell everyone about them.

Cory Ames  40:49  

Lovely advice for us to end on Lucy. Lastly, where should we keep up with you? Where should we go to keep up with all the new things we have going on at Futerra.

Lucy Shea  40:58
So website and our LinkedIn and our socials. So wearefuterra.com and Futerra on LinkedIn and Twitter and Instagram. And then I also on LinkedIn, bit different on Twitter at the moment. So yeah, LinkedIn and Instagram are the best.

Cory Ames  41:15
Perfect, we'll have all those things linked up in the show post at girl ensemble.com Thank you so much again, Lucy.

Lucy Shea  41:22  

Thank you, Cory. Great questions. Thank you so much.

Cory Ames  41:26  

Okay, that is a wrap another episode of the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast in the books. I hope you enjoyed it. As always your host your Cory Ames. I always really enjoy knowing that you're you're out there and listen to this episode engaging with the content, perhaps the folks that we featured doing this exceptional work in the world. If you enjoyed the show and you haven't already, please leave us a review wherever it is that you get your podcasts and hit the subscribe button if you haven't already that really helps other folks like yourself, discover the show. And lastly, if you have not yet sign up for the better world weekly newsletter this is our weekly discussion of building a better world with our global community of changemakers and innovators from all sectors in all walks of life. So go to grow ensembl.com backslash newsletter to get the next Better World weekly in your inbox. Alright y'all, we'll talk next time


Lucy SheaProfile Photo

Lucy Shea


Lucy Shea is the CEO of Futerra, the change agency. Since joining the business in 2003, she has grown the business from a start-up of 5 to a global agency with teams in London, New York, and Stockholm.

Futerra isn’t just a logical sustainability consultancy or a magical creative agency; it is both.

Lucy is an expert in the business of climate action and sustainable lifestyles, advising clients such as Tommy Hilfiger, Unilever, Sky, and WWF. She radically reimagined garment recycling over a decade ago by creating Swishing, the global clothes swapping movement.

Lucy was a founder member of the UN’s Sustainable Lifestyles Taskforce in 2005, when she authored Communicating Sustainability. This special UN Environment Programme report has been downloaded over 1 million times from the UNEP website, and remains one of the organization's most read reports.