Getting to know Laurinda and Fatuma – the duo behind Collective Closets
How did Collective Closets start?
We are two Melbourne sisters, Laurinda and Fatuma. Born in Angola and raised here in Melbourne. Our label came about from our first trip to Nairobi, Kenya almost 8 years ago. We both remember landing in Nairobi for the first time. From the minute you land the city sweeps you away, takes your breath and engulfs you in a journey of an eclectic, colourful and culturally enriched world. We wanted our label to reflect our love for Africa but specifically the Masai tribe. This trip all those years ago was really the catalyst and the inspiration behind Collective Closets. We always knew that we wanted to start a womens’ label that was authentic and personal to our upbringing.
Who does Collective Closets appeal to?
Our design philosophy for every collection has really stemmed from designing classic, basic go-to staples that we want to wear. Our label draws heavily on our ferocious appetite for individuality, boldness, self-expression, and comfort. The result has been the creation of a clothing label that will suit the woman who wants to be herself, who is subconsciously aware of the trends but is not dictated by them. Our label allows for personal interpretation, where the individual is at the centre, and the clothing remains secondary, complimenting the mood and lifestyle of the individual. The Collective Closets women are ambitious, smart and worldly – and aren’t afraid to stand out and speak up.
What can shoppers expect?
A clothing label that celebrates us as designers –our personal journeys and dual cultures play a massive role in the aesthetic and inspiration of our brand. As Angolans that migrated to Australia 30+ years ago, it has really been important for us to tell our story through our own experiences. We are so proud of our background and it’s been an integral part of our story telling.
Can you tell me about your inspiration for the most recent collection, the wanderer?
The wanderer is a celebration of nomadic spirit, a celebration of beauty that is woven into the shuka textile. For this collection, we wanted the shuka fabric (check fabric) to be the hero, to celebrate our interpretation of the beauty behind the fabric. The shuka, represented by the Maasai, is symbolic of the untold. This cloth represents raw beauty, resilience, power and strength. This collection draws down from those that are free to wander outside and off the beaten track. The wanderer urges you to create your own path and follow that voice within. Through trusting yourself through the process and venturing down a path that might be a little scary, you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how far you can go. We don’t always need a map to navigate life’s challenging moments.
Your journal features some inspiring women around the theme of wandering. Why was it important to give the collection a story?
We pride ourselves in celebrating the sisterhood and showcasing the talented women behind our collections, as well as the intimate stories that inspire us to create our garments. We strive to connect and engage with our customers on a deeper level than just the clothing. The conversations, stories and theme for every collection are genuine exchanges that the two of us are having with the women in our own lives. It’s just amazing that we get to use our clothing label as a platform to share these positive conversations with our followers and customers.
Can you tell us about Mission of Hope?
Developing a socially conscious enterprise was something that was very important to us from the conception of Collective Closets. We all love to look good and not necessarily spend a lot of money, but the price of our appetite for cheap and throwaway fashion comes at a cost to someone somewhere. We’re working at understanding our impact on the environment as a fashion label with a commitment to do better, as well as educating our consumers about slow fashion. Collective Closets looks at creating long term plans for positive changes.
Our Mission of Hope is a social enterprise that supports vulnerable disadvantaged children through education, providing them with tools through vocational training to not only feel empowered but also contribute and empower their community.
What’s your favourite item in the new collection?
Fatuma: My favourite pieces from the wanderer collection are the Nzuri Blazer and our best seller, the Amani Culotte pants. You can’t go wrong with a power suit.
Laurinda: Hands down our Fuata Jumpsuit. It goes with everything!
Where do you source your materials from?
The story behind our fabrics is the essence behind our label. We travel at least once a year to Nairobi, Kenya to decide upon our fabrics for our upcoming collections. We work closely with our spinning factory in Nairobi who provide us with our shuka which we use every autumn and winter. Our suppliers have been carefully weaving fabrics since 1979. We further source our African print fabric from Dakar, Senegal and source our beautiful linen fabric locally from our suppliers in Melbourne. The fabrics and the stories behind them really set the tone for every collection. We strive to bring our customers unique fabrics that are rich in history.
Why Queen Vic Market?
Having the opportunity to open our very first retail space at Queen Vic Market is just amazing! We’ve grown up going to the Vic Market since forever, so when the opportunity came about to open our own store in such an iconic, vibrant space that celebrates everything that Melbourne has to offer is such a blessing.