Letter to the future | Lola Young

Inspirational words from a member of the House of Lords

To keep spirits high and creativity strong, Polimoda has asked its community of fashion industry experts to write about the future.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

Many of us are experiencing unprecedented restrictions in our daily lives, stressed out by fears about our finances, wondering whether that tickle in our throats is hay fever or something more serious. Adding to that there are torrents of (mis)information coming at us from all directions. 

It often feels like we have little say in what happens during these critical situations. But we might ask of ourselves, "what choices will we make when this is over?" and "how will we contribute to shaping tomorrow’s 'normal'?" To answer these questions we need truth, facts and honesty at every level of society.  

Moving forward with leaders committed to truth is essential. Currently, the notion of truth shifts shape with alarming rapidity. It may be difficult to access at times but the truth will be revealed through diligence, intelligence and bravery. Put simply, we must work hard for it. 

Right now, in the midst of a global pandemic, let’s remember these basic truths – across our planet, many people have demonstrated kindness and heroism without seeking reward or favor. Tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, recall those who generously gave everything, with generosity and purpose that wasn’t about racking up "followers", "friends" or "likes" but supporting families, friends, strangers and communities.

At the same time, never forget those whose desire to accumulate wealth, to push their ideological positions, and to punish the vulnerable for being "weak" led them to think of people as "economic units" rather than flesh and blood human beings.

Living in the present at the same time as attempting to learn from the past and shaping the future is tough, complex work. In addition, we must recognize that from all the different reactions to the pandemic – and every other crisis we encounter – we have a choice as to how we respond. Let’s focus on the best humans can be, and shape our world accordingly.

Lola Young

Lola Young

Member of the House of Lords and Activist

After an extensive acting career, Lola Young went on to become professor of Cultural Studies at Middlesex University, a writer, broadcaster and cultural critic. She subsequently became Head of Culture at the Greater London Authority before being appointed an independent Crossbench member of the House of Lords in 2004. Baroness Young founded and Co-Chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion, and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sport, Modern Slavery and Human Rights and has previously served on Select Committees on Sexual Violence in Conflict and on EU. As Chair of the Young Review, and Agenda: the Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk, she has addressed racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system and the vulnerability of traumatised women and girls respectively. Baroness Young holds several honorary doctorates, has sat on the Boards of several national cultural organisations and charities, has been a Chair of judges for the Orange Prize for Literature, The Observer newspaper Ethical Awards and the Man Booker prize 2017. She is now focused on strengthening legislation that addresses modern forms of slavery in supply chains, with a focus on fashion and sport.