Purpose Collective on Steering Fashion Toward a Better Future

Changing an entire industry’s approach to sustainability may seem like an impossible task for most, but the women behind Purpose Collective are determined to revolutionize how fashion operates at every level.

Elizabeth Cabral and Julia Perry have spent decades gaining expertise in fashion, film, and art and, since 2020, are using that wisdom to create meaningful change in an industry known to produce high amounts of waste with unmonitored supply chains.

While the two didn’t begin this work until the early days of the pandemic, they’ve been friends and colleagues for years. Having admired the other’s career from afar, they’ve finally come together with a shared vision of sustainable fashion at every level.

Cabral spent years as the Fashion Director at Flare Magazine and a stylist in New York. Perry worked in the film industry for most of her career, with positions at MGM and 20th Century Fox, but wanted to make a change to fashion. 

They both found themselves searching for a new challenge—one that would utilize their skills and have a positive effect on the world.

Perry knew Cabral’s fashion knowledge would complement her skillset, saying she was “always keeping Liz really close” to guide her in her transition to the fashion industry.

So when she began to discuss a new initiative with the UN’s Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed to create accountability and sustainability throughout supply chains, she knew Cabral would be the ideal partner. Cabral was on board from the get-go.

“She sort of lured me into this opportunity to start something very purpose driven in the way of sustainability with the United Nations,” said Elizabeth Cabral “And I was like a check, check, check—this is everything I’m personally and professionally interested in, so why not do that?”

The two founded the fashion sector of Sustainchain, guiding the initiative in its infancy. They’re still working in advisory roles there, but have switched their focus to their latest venture where they’ve brought their learnings from Sustainchain.

Purpose Collective is a creative agency that brings together industry leaders to innovate in moving fashion toward a better future. Through creative storytelling, the agency aims to highlight the human aspect of sustainability issues.

From smaller companies to big-named brand partners like L’Oréal, Purpose Collective has a massive impact. Perry points out that the small and medium brands shouldn’t be counted out—in fact, these brands can often lead the way.

“You take a few thousand small and medium brands [working sustainably]—that’s a huge impact,” said Perry. “I think that’s where the tsunami happens with sustainability and the real change comes.”

This change isn’t going to happen overnight—the fashion industry faces many challenges enacting the necessary improvements. But conversations around sustainability are becoming more and more commonplace, and Cabral says that she and Perry are “resolutely optimistic” about the future.

“I think you have to be,” said Cabral. “And that’s what keeps us doing the work that we’re doing.