Each week at the Sustainable Shopper, Stylist talks to the people focused on creating a more conscious shopping space for all. This time, Rene Macdonald – founder and creative director of clothing label Lisou – talks to fashion editor Harriet Davey about putting the fun into sustainable fashion.
Fun, exciting, happy clothes are at the heart of Lisou. And so is sustainability. Founded by Rene Macdonald in 2018, the print-packed clothing brand is designed to make you smile. With each style designed by Rene to make a statement, while also giving back to the community in Tanzania, Africa where she grew up, it’s all about buying into a small business that does good.
Donating proceeds of collections towards education and medicinal needs for young people, partnering with local schools and planting trees to offset the brands’ carbon footprint are some of the initiatives the label has. Not only is Lisou a go-to for carefully made pieces with a punchy, vibrant attitude, the brand makes clothes for women, and supports them throughout.
What is your earliest memory of sustainability?
Rene: Growing up in Africa, I was always conscious of sustainability. Long before recycling became a global issue, we were already doing it.
I think an absence of what you need forces you to reuse and repurpose everything. I also grew up with every item of clothing becoming a hand-me-down and it’s still something I do to this day.
Is there such a thing as truly sustainable fashion?
I think we have a way to go before we reach true or complete sustainable fashion. The important thing is for everyone to do their bit. This isn’t an issue that is going to be resolved overnight.
Investment pieces vs fast fashion: how do you get customers to care?
To get people to make investment pieces instead of fast fashion is all about educating the customer and being transparent about how their items are made.
We need to learn about slow fashion and change our mindsets from the immediacy and constant demand for newness.
What changes would you like to see happen in the fashion industry?
Well, I think sustainability and a return to slow fashion are essential to create change within the industry. I also feel that there should be less collections produced a year. There’s a huge amount of pressure as a creative to keep designing multiple collections. Obviously deadlines need to be met but constantly creating newness takes it’s toll on the creative side, too.
Three sustainable shopping hacks
Try to buy from independent brands – they produce smaller volumes and are more likely to work with smaller producers. Personally, I love to buy from family run businesses like Summerill & Bishop who Lisou has a new table linen collaboration with.
With a family run business you know that their heart is in their product because they truly love what they do. My final hack would be to look at the care label and find out what fabrics have been used to make your product.
Who is your favourite sustainability influencer?
I’m a big fan of Daisy from @igotitfromthecharityshop. As a lover of charity shops and vintage, I really connect with her.
Sustainable Shopper edit by Rene:
Lisou Jade jumpsuit
I’m a fan of jumpsuits, especially metallic ones. This style is such a statement piece.
Lisou Connie dress
You can’t go wrong with a shift dress in the summer. I’ll be wearing this with trainers during the day and heels for events. I’m really hoping to attend a wedding this year because this is what I would wear for the occasion.
Lisou Carlotta shorts
I intend to live in these once the weather warms up. The jacquard metallic print on these shorts will look so good with the Betty puff sleeved shirt below.
Lisou Betty shirt
The Betty is my favourite shirt of all time. It’s also one of our bestsellers and this print is a beauty.
E.L.V. Denim jumpsuit
This company make all their denim products from unwanted jeans destined for landfill. This upcyled jumpsuit is on my wish list.
Riley Studio sweater
An extraordinary brand that uses recycled products to manufacture clothing. They’ve just started doing cosy cashmere jumpers.
Summerill & Bishop napkin
Summerill & Bishop is undoubtedly my favourite homewares shop in the world. We’ve got a wonderful collaboration with this family run store creating hand-painted table linens. The tablecloths are made in Italy in small runs or made to order using old artisanal techniques.
Joanna Vargas cleanser
I discovered Joanna Vargas on a business trip to LA. I love their plant-based skincare.
Images: courtesy of Rene/ Lisou/ Anoushka Beckwith