My fantastic friend Steph set up the seen collective, a bespoke, knitted jumpers brand when she moved to South Africa. You can put in an order for a made-to-measure cardigan or jumper and it’ll be knitted by a very talented group of women in Johannesburg. I spoke to Steph to find out how it started and how her slow-fashion brand is supporting women in SA.
What is your business and what makes it unique?
My business is called the seen collective. We are a tiny group of women based in Johannesburg, South Africa, who hand knit luxury jumpers and cardigans. I am the founder, Steph, and I moved to Joburg from London with my family a few years ago. In downtown Johannesburg, I work with a knitting group based in an old people’s home for women of limited means. We are the epitome of slow fashion :)! Generally, we make to order with a 3-4 week turnaround. We knit using the raddest locally-made yarn: a kid mohair merino blend, hand-spun and hand-dyed in the Eastern Cape. It’s so light and insanely warm; you can wear it on the beach and in the snow.
How did it all begin?
It was an idea that got some wind behind it. I met some beautiful women who were eager to work. We just began making, then selling: it snowballed really.
Each made-to-measure jumper or cardigan is £240, including shipping to the UK.
What inspired you?
From a design perspective: painting, fine art, and artists who use colour in unexpected ways. On a human level: the women I work with teach me so much. They are far wiser than me & we have wonderful conversations whilst working.
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What is the meaning behind the business name?
I want the skills of this group of women I work alongside to be seen by a wider audience.
Who is your ideal client/customer?
Anyone who gives a hoot about where their clothes have come from and people who want to buy something to last a lifetime.
Follow the seen collective on Instagram, @theseencollective
What is your top parenting tip?
Listen to your gut. Parenting successfully is an ever-moving target. Enjoy the best bits and educate yourself when things feel difficult.
Oh, and strict bedtimes!
Shop: In Joburg, Convoy — a beautiful spot for locally-made fashion. In London, so many! I love the feeling of some of the traditional department stores, so uniquely British — Liberty’s has to be my favourite. I like a side of nostalgia with my shopping, which is perhaps accentuated by being an expat at the moment :). VV Rouleaux is a treasure trove and also love James Smith & Sons, the umbrella store near Tottenham Court Road.
Website: Instagram is invaluable to small business. I have had to set a timer on my usage though.
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Holiday destination: Scarborough in the Western Cape is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Kruger is up there too. In fact, so many places in South Africa – we are very lucky. Ile d’Arz in France is a magical island. And anywhere in Italy.
Restaurant: We lived in Moscow for a long time and Pushkin is one of my favourite restaurants in the world. In London, I can’t get enough of dim sum at Royal China or Yauatcha Soho. In Paris, it has to be Robert & Louise for steak.
Hotel: Babington House
Each made-to-measure jumper or cardigan is £240 including shipping to the UK.
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