Shifting to more ethical and intelligent ways of working is the zeitgeist of fashion in 2019. Slowly but surely, more brands are placing an emphasis on environmental consciousness and, as ardent supporters of sustainable efforts, we’re celebrating the brands doing just that. Each week, we’ll be meeting the brands fashioning beautiful goods with the greater good in mind.

Though small in scale, Lisou are big in ambition. A London-based clothing brand with a global outlook, they create silk pieces and brighter futures. Their playful prints add a modern twist to the classic silk shirt. Each pattern is designed by Rene Macdonald, the creative director and founder.

Rene grew up in Tanzania and relocated to the UK as a child and is now based in West London. “My hope,” she explains, “was to set up a brand that showcases my African heritage with a Western aesthetic.  I think most people who start a brand do so because on some level they feel unrepresented by what’s on offer.”  

The bold colourways and vibrant prints reference her Tanzanian upbringing, although Rene believes that inspiration is to be found all around, from “patches of wall, building cornices, the corner of a bag and plenty of other oddities!” Having formerly worked as a stylist and an avid collector of vintage pieces, Rene honed in quickly on the fabric of her choice.  “I’ve always loved the feel and look of silk,” she explains. “Silk is a natural, biodegradable fabric that has a long life span when cared for.”

Whilst “striving to make each collection better than the last,” Rene was also keen for Lisou to become more than simply a clothing brand: she wanted to create a business which helps others.

Rene set up The LIFE Trust, a charity which invites people from Tanzanian communities to apply for grants to assist with education and medical costs. Currently they help several students studying from primary level all the way up to university. Lisou donates the entire proceeds from one item of each collection to this charity. For SS20 it is this cheering Rainbow Heart printed shirt.

And being based in West London herself, Rene felt that it was also important for the brand to encourage engagement in the community. Lisou run an annual initiative with local state schools to encourage students’ interest in the creative arts. The children are tasked with drawing something that inspires them and these designs are printed onto silk scarves. The proceeds are given to the art departments of the winning schools and the four children whose designs are featured also receive art supplies. “My secret hope is that one of the pupils who enter our school design competition may one day go on to be a fashion or textile designer themselves,” Rene shares.

For Rene, Lisou is about “creating a kind of local community who love fashion,” whilst supporting potential globally. We (rainbow) heart Lisou. 

Shop Lisou here

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