Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Lily Cole on ethical fashion, loving London and saving the world


Lily Cole is one of those people who possesses the enviable combination of both beauty and looks. The Cambridge graduate (did we mention she got double first honours in History of Art?) first started modelling at the age of 14 and she got her first Vogue cover at just 16-years-old.

She's also had starring roles in films such as The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, in which she starred with the late Heath Ledger, Snow White and the Huntsman, as well as playing a siren in an episode of Doctor Who.

Over the years, the actress and model has also become a supporter for environmental and humanitarian issues, such WaterAid, Comic Relief and Peta, who named her one of the sexiest vegetarians last year.

Recently, she also teamed up with Sky Rainforest Rescue - a partnership between Sky and WWF - to become an ambassador for the brand to help protect one billion trees.

Sky and WWF work with the local government in Acre, northwest Brazil, to tackle deforestation by enabling local people to make a fair living from sustainable rainforest products such as wild rubber. As part of her work, Lily teamed up with footwear specialists Veja to create a special collection, made with wild rubber

Despite the fact that Lily is currently to playing the role of Helen of Troy in Simon Armitage's The Last Days of Troy, she managed to find the time to speak to us about her role creating the collection and how we can all be more ethically minded.

How did this collaboration come about?

I was first connected with the Sky Rainforest Campaign about five years ago, when they asked me to support the project. Then two years ago they came to me with this proposal about the rubber trade in the Amazon and to go out there and make film about it. During that trip, I saw firsthand the crucial part that Sky Rainforest Rescue plays in creating demand for wild Amazonian rubber for companies like Veja, which aims to discourage farmers from deforestation. While I don’t think it’s going to be achieved through one collection it’s a start. The collection is more a talking point to set a precedent and to prove that it might work.

How much input did you have with the design of the collection?

I was pretty hands-on with help with the design, I shot loads of pictures while I was in the Amazon. Some of the main images I used – such a butterfly – were used for the trainers. Then we did a drawing of the different images and a really meticulous identical copy – I was really anal about it. And no creative license. It's literally the butterfly that was in the amazon. And then we tried different colour schemes and that was it.

How difficult is it to wear ethically sourced clothing particularly in fashion when the culture tends to be fairly disposable?

I really do try whenever I want to be mindful of the fact that whenever I buy something I know where it’s coming from. Whenever I have the opportunity to support who’s done the creating. And I do that with food too. Anything that I buy, I’ll always try to support more ethical, more Fair Trade, more local and more organic products where I can. There’s an increasing amount for people to get on board with that. But it’s difficult because there’s so much apathy towards the stories behind the objects.

If anyone is looking for advice on how to do this, what would you suggest?

First and foremost I would say buy less and pay more. And I think you should buy stuff you really love. We need to get away from this disposable, fast fashion culture, which I think many people think is totally acceptable. You know, the reality is that everything you buy has a load of people behind it. So make sure you invest in quality and you’re also going to love it and hopefully use it for longer.

Anywhere you can recommend?

There are opportunities if you look for them. You just have to want to find them.

In terms of your own style, do you have a uniform? Do you have a go-to look?

I do wear a lot of jeans, because they’re comfy and t-shirts with them. Now I probably wear more shorts and stuff but I don’t know. I hardly ever wear heels, because I had to wear them so much on the catwalk. Sometimes, if I dress up, but my feet always end up hurting!

You grew up in London, do you have any particular favourite shops?

I used to go a lot to lots of charity shops in Notting Hill Gate and there are a couple of other ones now, in central that sell vintage clothes I really love. I love buying vintage.

Do you have any particular places that you love to visit in London?

I just love walking across London and walking along the Thames. I love it because I always discover something new even though I know it well.

Lily Cole’s Veja footwear collection for Sky Rainforest Rescue is on sale from the first week of June 2014. For more information, please visit rainforestrescue.sky.com



25 celebrities who know how to rock short and cropped hairstyles


How to source an ethical engagement ring


Keira Knightley would "150 million%" discourage daughter from acting


Woman turns her face into 'social experiment' to illustrate reaction to no make-up


Read the first two chapters of J.K. Rowling's new book 'The Silkworm'

Innocent image - laura bailey crop.jpg

Laura Bailey talks ethical shopping


Fresh accessories for modern brides, inspired by Fashion Week trends

From striking ear cuffs to grown-up glitter shoes

by Anna Brech
20 Oct 2017

Stranger Things is coming to Topshop just in time for Halloween

Shop the retro-inspired line of tees and accessories

by Nicola Colyer
19 Oct 2017

This week's Style List: 30 red pick-me-ups

As seen in this week's mag

by Stylist
17 Oct 2017

Say hello to the Zara boots taking over Instagram this autumn

These boots are made for walking (all over your social media feed)

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Oct 2017

The best loungewear and PJs to get comfy in this winter

Hello sofa my old friend

by Amy Swales
13 Oct 2017

Daily outfit inspiration with our look at the best dressed A-listers

Casual dressing ideas from stylish celebrities

13 Oct 2017

This French accessory trend is back and we’re totally on board

The most effortless way to update your autumn/winter wardrobe

by Nicola Colyer
12 Oct 2017

Treasure trove of rare Versace pieces unveiled online

Immerse yourself in the fabulous world of the late, great designer

by Anna Brech
12 Oct 2017

ASOS is now offering same-day delivery, but there’s just one catch...

So long, last-minute outfit dilemmas

by Susan Devaney
12 Oct 2017

This week's Style List: 30 little pick-me-ups

As seen in this week's mag

by Stylist
11 Oct 2017