Lily Cole's Mission to End Money

A supermodel aims to free us from commodity culture.

It’s February, and Lily Cole is in New York when she calls. “I don’t actually know what’s happening,” she says with the delighted laugh of someone who is relieved they don’t have to put up with the New York Fashion Week imbroglio this year. “I just landed today.”

Cole, a fashion model who achieved enough fame in the early 2000s to break into acting, is in town to promote her startup, Impossible, which launched in the U.S. in March. Impossible is a website Cole created with the help of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales that promotes “gift economies.” It functions as a wiki-style tumblelog, where users take over the platform to post “wishes” of what they need and “offers” of what they can provide.

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Ethical Style: How to Buy a More Ethical Knockoff A More Ethical Knock-Off of Forever 21 Fashions

How to find ethically produced alternatives to the latest trend—in less time than it takes to circle the racks at Forever 21.

Every Thursday, your Ethical Style questions, answered.

Modern fashion is a sprint. By the time a designer sends a new style down the runway, it’s only a matter of weeks before the trend hits fashion blogs, migrates to high-end boutiques, and is dumped en masse on your nearest knockoff mega-retailer. But the rush to snap up the latest thing doesn't leave much time to consider what we’re actually buying.

Now, a more thoughtful fashion outlet is intercepting the cycle. Fashioning Change is a website that helps trendsetters find ethically-produced, eco-friendly alternatives to whatever the big-name brands are selling this week—in less time than it takes to circle the racks at a Forever 21. Just tell Fashioning Change the types of brands and retailers you usually shop at—and the charitable causes you prefer to support—and the site’s "Changing Room" will offer more ethical versions of the latest trend from Gucci, Tory Burch, J. Crew, or Guess.

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