“We need to learn about slow fashion and change our mindsets”

Written by Harriet Davey

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.

Here, Rene shows the Stylist readers the spring/summer 2021 collection launching this week, and explains why shopping small makes a big difference. 

Rene Macdonald, founder of Lisou

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.

Lisou spring/summer 2021 collection

We need to learn about slow fashion and change our mindsets from the immediacy and constant demand for newness.

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.

Lisou spring/summer 2021 dress

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. 

Lisou spring/summer 2021 coat

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

      Lisou Jade jumpsuit

      I’m a fan of jumpsuits, especially metallic ones. This style is such a statement piece.

      Shop Jade jumpsuit at Lisou, £545

      BUY NOW

    • Lisou Connie dress

      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.

      Shop Connie sleeveless dress at Lisou, £350

      BUY NOW

    • Lisou Carlotta shorts

      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. 

      Shop Carlotta shorts at Lisou, £225

      BUY NOW

    • Lisou Betty shirt

      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. 

      Shop Betty shirt at Lisou, £250

      BUY NOW

    • E.L.V. Denim jumpsuit

      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.

      Shop the unique classic denim jumpsuit at E.L.V. Denim, £595

      BUY NOW

    • Riley Studio sweater

      Riley Studio jumper

      An extraordinary brand that uses recycled products to manufacture clothing. They’ve just started doing cosy cashmere jumpers.

      Shop recycled cashmere funnel neck sweater at Riley Studio, £285

      BUY NOW

    • Summerill & Bishop napkin

      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.

      Shop S&B x Lisou heart linen napkin at Summerill & Bishop, £35

      BUY NOW

    • Joanna Vargas cleanser

      Joanna Vargas face wash

      I discovered Joanna Vargas on a business trip to LA.I love their plant-based skincare.

      Shop vitamin face wash at Joanna Vargas, £29

      BUY NOW

    Images: courtesy of Rene/ Lisou/ Anoushka Beckwith

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