The West is many things to many people - eclectic, diverse, steeped in tradition. To Collective Closets founders and sisters Fatuma & Laurinda, it’s about community and family.
"I think that there’s a perception of the West that people have but when you go there you realise it’s a melting pot, people are super kind to each other, more willing, understanding and patient with each other on a more human level… there is this real sense of community” says Fatuma.
It's that same desire to celebrate their community that started the sisters on their path to creating Collective Closets, a clothing label that's a harmonious marriage between their African and Melbourne cultures.
"Our passion is really bringing a knowledge of African textiles to Melbourne. How the clothes look and how that makes someone feel to bring the best out of people… empowering them to really express themselves through how they dress and think about what they are wearing and what it means to bring the best out for them".
"Having a label that gives back and acknowledges the people who make it, acknowledging the culture and tradition is huge, it’s educating people about the region and all the good that comes out of it. Fostering and investing in the women in Africa [who produce their fabrics] is essential to who we are". These women, who they call their ‘tribe’, are the inspiration behind their designs. They also draw constant inspiration from family.
"Our mum is our inspiration… she’s pretty styling. What’s most inspiring about mum is she really empowered herself when she migrated here by taking Australian values whilst keeping her own values".
"We always grew up in a home where appearance was a big thing… mum would help us make our clothes. We've learnt not to be scared to be bold and yourself. It’s been so surprising how our own personal style of being bold and not being embarrassed or afraid of all those crazy colours mixed together has translated and now we are watching other cultures embracing it".
The girls feel blessed to get to work together doing something they love.
"I think being sisters there’s a synergy and honesty. We have always loved fashion from a very young age and to be able to share that passion and what has evolved has been great. It’s nice to have success with my sister".