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The Lissome

The Lissome

Surprise Subscription #16

For a long time, the terms fashion and sustainability seemed contradictory. If anything, sustainably produced garments were clothes – but never fashion. Fortunately, the world has changed since then and there is now a new generation that no longer separates style and responsibility. The Lissome is a brainchild of this generation.

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Aware of the despair many people feel about the environmental damage and social injustice caused by the fashion system, this Berlin magazine gives a platform to labels who are truly trying to change the system. Greenwashing has no place here!

Like any good fashion magazine, The Lissome focuses on the issues and contexts that surround its vision, not just on the clothes. So you can find essays exposing SpaceX’s efforts as a new form of colonialism, a photo essay on the fashion students learning from farmers, and interviews with the people at the vanguard of sustainable and circular thinking in the worlds of design, education, fashion and even further afield. But turn the page to one of the rather rare editorials in this magazine, and you will be struck by the irresistible elegance of its visual identity…

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The issue we sent out for the 16th instalment of our Surprise Subscription is entitled ‘Cosmic Commons’, and it is probably the most spiritual issue they have made so far. So we had a few questions about the connection between the cosmic scale of this issue, and The Lissome’s mission, which focuses on the local, slow and sustainable. Luckily founder and editor-in-chief Dörte de Jesus gifted us with some of her time ans answers:

 

Dörte, let’s start at the beginning: You worked for traditional fashion media like Elle before. What made you feel that you should move past this and start your own ecological conscious fashion magazine?

Reading Naomi Klein’s book “This Changes Everything” in early 2015 had an enormous effect on me, opening my mind (and heart) to the gravity of the climate and ecological emergency. I began to feel that we are approaching times of great change, where we have to ask ourselves “What kind of world do we want to create?” What I experienced at a traditional fashion publication didn’t seem relevant for our times. I knew I no longer wanted to be in the wheel of the industry that I had come to see as part of the problem but instead question it and seek and create a better alternative. I’ve always loved the playful side of fashion and how much creative expression it could potentially allow, and I view fashion as a potent tool for storytelling. But in our age of intense consumerism, it is hard to dismiss how traditional fashion media acts as a catalyst for constantly changing trends, entices us to go shopping, and helps push fashion production, consumption, and waste into overdrive. At the same time, it creates a strange bubble, a glamorous but somewhat thoughtless fantasy world, where we’re not made to think about where our clothes come from or how to relate to them meaningfully. It preys on our insecurities and keeps the machinery of fast fashion rolling.
I began to ask myself: couldn’t we use fashion media as a tool to build strong and caring bonds between fashion lovers and the origins of their garments, to celebrate the ingenuity of nature and the skillfulness of fashion designers and makers? Couldn’t we use it as a platform for empowering, expressing, and loving ourselves in all our diversity? And couldn’t we use its storytelling powers to help transform our culture – by guiding it away from extraction, competition, and exploitation, and towards regeneration, compassion, and cooperation? The Lissome started as an exploration of these kinds of questions, slowly developing and deepening. Gradually, I was contacted by other fashion industry creatives such as stylist Sophia Schwan, photographer Anna Rosa Krau and fashion academic Ania Zoltkowski, who were asking themselves very similar questions, and that’s how our team and community began to grow and evolve.

 

Lissome Magazine #3 2021

 

Why did you call your magazine The Lissome and what does it mean?

The magazine is named after the 18th-century word “lissome” meaning “gentle, calm, gracious, kind”. The title acts as a guidepost – we made a deliberate choice to tell our stories in a gentle and joyful way, by means of beauty. I believe that if we want to bring forward a new culture based on regeneration, empathy and care, it has to be given space and come alive within us, in our inner development and in our outer words and visual language. We have to manifest the energy that we want to see in the world.

 

With The Lissome’s mission and purpose in mind, how do you choose the brands you showcase and the contributors you work with?

A holistic view of sustainability is the foundation of The Lissome and our aim (and passion) is to help foster a growing holistic and regenerative movement in the realm of clothing and textiles. The brands we showcase are mainly small and follow a slow (clothing) ethos, they share our values and love for thoughtful craftsmanship and beauty. We carefully choose all the brands that we work with and follow high standards regarding the quality of craftsmanship as well as the thoroughness of ethical and sustainable production. Besides the use of natural and organic materials sourced in harmony with people, animals and the environment, we pay special attention to transparency and localism in both material sourcing and processing. You can find a more detailed overview of our guidelines on our online platform under www.thelissome.com/sustainability.

Sensitivity, mindfulness, an understanding of the importance of beauty and a reverence for the wonder and sacredness of life are essential to our work – they are the values and traits that bond our team and collaborators.

 

 

Why do we find in The Lissome, a fashion magazine, more articles and interviews on capitalism, colonialism and reconnection with nature than fashion editorials?

What I’ve come to learn over the years is that the climate and ecological crisis are not singular topics that can be solved through easy fixes within the existing structures. Margaret Atwood put it well when she wrote: “It’s not climate change, it’s everything change.” I believe that we are facing a systemic crisis and a philosophical one. If we seriously intend to find solutions, we have to re-align our perspective of the whole world and our place within it.

And that’s where I believe the role and importance of storytelling and media come in. As humans, we create meaning through stories. The stories that we tell each other shape how we perceive ourselves, our place in the world, and the values to which we aspire. If we want to change our world, we have to change our stories – their content, viewpoints, and protagonists. And I would like to go further and say that it is essential for our mission that we also become aware of how we tell our stories, our tone of voice, and our energetic frequency.

For The Lissome, this means that we use the world of fashion as our starting point from which we explore the wide web of life. We see the ecosystem of fashion as a rich example of interconnection that touches on the many different relationships that we engage in: our relationship with nature, with plants and animals, with our fellow human beings, and the world of material things.

 

 

There are a few essays on stars and space in this issue. What do they mean to you? And what does it have to do with sustainability and fashion?

When we create our annual print editions, we aim to choose a theme that we sense will have significance for the times ahead. The title Cosmic Commons does not only create a beautiful alliteration but also opens up a space for contemplation. In the past years, many veils have been lifting, old certainties have been crumbling and we can see more clearly now that our current (western) way of life is neither ecologically sustainable nor does it keep its promise of sharing wealth and participation fairly and equally. At a time when billionaires set out to control space (while our planet is still hurting from hundreds of years of colonization), and rising inequalities polarise and divide our societies, we would like to offer a shift of perspective and reflect on the construct of ownership and the essential need for community and collaboration.

When we lift our view and gaze into the night sky, we watch a sea of stars. It is both humbling and breathtaking – we experience how small we are, yet how we belong to something so beautiful and enormous. We – and every living being – are each essential part of this ancient network of life, infinitely interconnected. How can we transcend the illusion of separation and rebuild our world by coming together (in all our diversity) and reclaiming our shared prosperity and aliveness?

 

 

We love the interviews in this issue, like the one with Jason Edward Lewis on Indigenous perspectives for artificial intelligence or the one with Andrea Vetter on which structures we have to rethink and break to create real change. Can you tell us about your favourite piece in this issue? Just to tease our subscribers …

Personally, I loved interviewing David Bollier, who is a leading expert and writer on the commons movement. Talking with him opened my eyes to the significance of DIY – to how a more beautiful, healthy and caring world could be built bottom-up from the grassroots, and how this is already happening in a multitude of ways

As in David’s words: “That’s what a robust commons movement around the world is doing. It is pioneering new forms of production, more open and accountable forms of governance, innovative technologies and cultures, and healthy, appealing ways to live. It is a quiet revolution – self-organized, diversified, and socially minded.”

 

Thank you, Dörte!

 

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