A Designer Creating “Intimate” Clothes for Their Non-Binary Community

Pin It
Self-portrait by Sissel Kärneskog
Self-portrait by Sissel Kärneskog

Sissel Kärneskog is an RCA graduate advocating for their community through fashion, crafting pieces which are imbued with “emotional value”

Introducing New Beginnings, a new series of mini Q&As spotlighting emerging designers, in the wake of Craig McDean and Katie Shillingford’s shoot for AnOther Magazine Autumn/Winter 2020.

AnOther Magazine: What are your hopes for the future?

Sissel Kärneskog: Regarding myself... I will put my emotional and physical body before the constructed idea of self-realisation. One of many things that this year has taught me is that we need to analyse the concept of ‘success’, especially in the field of fashion, where the word tends to be toxic. I’m drawn to this field because it was the first tool I found to express myself, and what’s being created are the most intimate objects we own. I, like many others, put a lot of emotional value to these objects, but I know that we can evolve them even further, collaborate and give back. I wish to find a way to evolve this construction, since I refuse to fall into how the system operates today. But let’s do that together, it’s more fun that way! Regarding the rest... I hope we all listen and see, learn and unlearn. The concept of the world we once knew is flickering, and it needs to heal in order to shape one that we are free and equal. We need to do better.

AM: What is the thinking behind your work?

SK: I am just one voice of my community. I speak for them, fight with them. By being a non-binary queer identity there is still so much work that needs to be done in order to exist in a world of respect, inclusion and acceptance, a world that is equal. I don’t define my gender identity nor my sexuality and I don’t define my practice in one singular description. Design interacts with the human and, in the same way, I interact with design. My practice is a constant exploration of how we express, and how it is received. It operates as a constant experiment of human interaction to understand and explain how we exist in a world that is still rooted in the binary, and how this is a great flaw. 

AM: What three words would you use to describe your approach to fashion?

SK: Disruption of tradition.

AM: What does community mean to you?

SK: My community in a way saved me, it has become my safe space. It is my extended family, and we’re a family built from strange pieces. We show the truth that the human emotional body is evolving at a higher pace than the body of our society. This is a world that can only see two. The two being a construction of what gender means. We are fighting to be accepted, respected and allowed to love. These are fundamental values that are not to be earned, it is our right.

AM: What community did you grow up around? How did that shape you?

SK: Where and when I grew up was a place that was not mine, this was a place where I was on a constant search in order to find a fragment that would feel like it could be a part of me. Early on I started to create in order to shape my own world. I was always the strange kid that dressed weird and had funny hairstyles, and I couldn’t care less. Because early on I realised that the thing I could have control over was myself, and the rest was only noise. Later on, I needed more, so I packed a weekend bag and moved. This was when I found my community, the ones like me, my home. I found a place where I could show my truth, how my emotional body has gone through a journey, an exploration of finding my most authentic version of myself. And also express that freely. My past or my present has not only shaped me, it has shaped everything that I do.

Follow Sissel Kärneskog on Instagram here.

This interview has been edited and condensed.