Installation view of Collective Closets on display in <em>Fashion Now</em> as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.   Image: Sean Fennessy

Collective Closets

Collective Closets
(Est. 2016, Melbourne)

Collective Closets is a slow-fashion womenswear label founded by sisters Fatuma and Laurinda Ndenzako. The brand pays homage to their late mother Stella, herself a talented seamstress, and celebrates their Africa–Australian heritage. Inspired by shuka fabric traditionally worn by the Maasai people – a cloth that represents raw beauty, resilience, power and strength – the duo works with talented African artisans to create collections that pay tribute to the continent’s rich culture.

On display at Melbourne Now are a trench coat, dress and suit from Collective Closet’s 2022 collections, which showcase the label’s bold colour palettes and versatile pieces. The label’s wardrobe staples focus on intentional and timeless design; the idea is to create compatible collections that can be worn together or apart across seasons, with each garment telling a story. Collective Closets champions the unique beauty of its fabrics, many crafted from long-lasting Oeko-Tex 100 per cent certified linen or artisan-made African cloth. The brand favours traditional production techniques – weaving and batik – and pays makers the wages they deserve. Collective Closets releases three seasonal collections per year, producing small runs in inclusive sizing to ensure all stock is sold, and works to reduce its carbon footprint across all aspects of the business.

Collective Closets aims to connect its customers with the culture and history of the African continent in a meaningful way. The brand is run entirely by local female staff, who are passionate about uniting women through a universal sartorial dialogue. The Ndenzako sisters work from dedicated studios in their homes and collaborate closely with their Melbourne-based production team. After closing the doors of its West Melbourne store in 2022, Collective Closets now primarily retails online, as well as working with select stockists.