The Changing Face of Sustainable Fashion: We talk to Dörte Lange and Madara Fremaine
Dörte Lange is the agency founder and creative director of LISSOME Studios and LISSOME Magazine. An award-winning communications designer, Lange’s ten years in the fashion and lifestyle industry spans both print and web-based subjects, working as a graphic designer, art director and stylist. Her client list is extensive, including ELLE Magazine, ELLE Decoration (Germany). Burda Creative (C3)...to name a few!
Madara Freimane is a co-founder of What’s Your Legacy, an online platform for sustainable fashion. A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Freimane is a photographer, videographer, creative director and entrepreneur.
Grace & Green talked to the two this week to find out why and how a new kind of sustainable fashion has landed.
Dörte Lange. Photographed by Bella Fanning
LONDON: Fast fashion has dominated the purchasing landscape over the last couple of decades, fuelled by a slick advertising machine and a seemingly insatiable consumer hunger. Yet a paradigm shift is occurring within a new generation of conscious consumers, who are beginning to probe the provenance of their products.
Consumer demand for cheap, fashionable clothing, married with irresponsible and toxic manufacturing practices, has helped make the fashion industry the world’s second biggest polluter behind the oil industry (EcoWatch). The proliferation of fast fashion stores on the High Street - where you can buy a pair of jeans for less than a Pret sandwich - has meant that quantity has driven production, rather than quality.
Sustainable fashion has understandably found it hard to compete, not least because there has been a dearth of cool brands at a reasonable price point. Five years ago, ethical fashion was either for high-end buyers, or seen as something hippies wore down to the co-op.
However, there has recently been a shift, with the emergence of fashion-forward ethical labels. From Reformation to Shrimps, they are the new Millennial It Girl favourites that also have a social conscience.
Dörte Lange has spent over a decade in fashion, as an art director and editorial designer. In March 2016, while working at ELLE magazine, she had the idea of LISSOME, a curated online magazine and concept store dedicated to unique, high- quality mindful fashion. Dörte wanted to help redefine the relationship that we have with our clothes, tapping into the rising awareness of how garments are connected to pollution, waste and unfair working conditions.
“I founded Lissome to showcase a new generation of conscious fashion brands that stand out for their high aesthetic awareness. To demonstrate that good style and fair and ecologically responsible production conditions do not rule each other out. Quite the opposite – good style excels through being mindful in all areas of your life.”
One of a kind Handmade Lace Shorts by Lana Siberie
LISSOME has created a set of sustainability criteria that are a great consumer guide. Dörte advises customers to ask themselves a series of questions.
"Are the garments well made and of high quality? Are the clothes made out of sustainable and preferably natural materials? Examples are organic cotton, tencel, hemp and linen which are made under fair working conditions and through eco-friendly production, such as vegetable tanning for leather, natural dyeing or water saving closed loop processes".
What’s Your Legacy is another great online destination for conscious fashionistas. Co-founded by Madara Freimane, it is a curated online platform for sustainable fashion which helps cut through the information.
“During my studies at London College of Fashion I decided to look into the behind the scenes of how fashion is produced,” explains Madara. “And I mean we all know it is not good...but when you get really exposed to what is happening, there is no way back.”
“We all have very busy lives and I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to spend hours researching their every garment. That is why at ‘What’s Your Legacy’ we try to do the research for you. We’re working on a substantial guide that is well-curated yet caters to people with different styles and budgets. I believe there needs to be an ASOS for sustainable fashion.”
Sustainable Clothing by Lapidarium
Madara observes that being mindful about fashion is becoming much more on trend.
“I think what is interesting about the current times is that now it is not anymore ‘hippies’ who are ready to leave their city life and live in the countryside. It is that cool boss girl on Instagram that you admire and she is eating healthily and caring about what she wears and that is amazing. It is becoming more mainstream”.
It is also an approach that has a significant symbiosis with the rise of the wellness movement".
“It is partly coming from the food industry as well. We are getting more health conscious and fashion feels like the next logical step. Also now with social media there are more possibilities for people to discuss this subject and give sustainability exposure.”
Dörte agrees, and feels that it isn’t just Millennials who are tapping into conscious fashion: “I wouldn’t necessarily say it is a matter of age but of the time we live in, as well as the information we can access. Awareness is rising on many levels – from food to renewable energies – and I think fashion is the next logical step.”
Both LISSOME and What’s Your Legacy aim to remove the onerous side of buying sustainably. Both sites host a range of brands at a variety of price points.
“One thing we always try to remind people is that you should do the best you can at the point you are in life. So, for example, if you are a student, and can’t afford to buy everything sustainably/ethically then try to make one more sustainable choice. That is already an improvement. And when you are able, do more”, says Madara.
Dress by Desert Sun Brand
Dörte and Madara both have a great eye for design and curate some of the most interesting sustainable brands out there. Madara notes that the choice is expanding in an exciting way, as sustainability moves further up the agenda.
“Reformation has brought sustainable fashion to the mainstream. I really love Monogram shirts as well - and we also recently did a video interview with Thoreau and their latest collection is just amazing. I love Paloma Wool, Sunad and The Nude Label that are all amazing Spanish brands. There are so many fantastic ones out there it is hard to choose.”
Dörte and Madara will be talking about sustainable fashion at Impact Hub Westminster on August 17th in London. Along with Sartorial Snob, they’ll be hosting a lively discussion on the industry - uncovering the latest brands and asking what we can do to support ethical labels.Isn’t it time you joined the zeitgeist? Grace & Green is a revolutionary new hygiene brand that connects women with sustainable and ethically-made period products. We launch in autumn. To find out more - join the movement today.