Skip to content

Merchants on Long continues their quest for a more sustainable fashion ecosystem with their latest collaboration

Home of African fashion and design, Merchants on Long champions sustainability in a bespoke, one-of-a-kind upcycled collection.

Collaborating with designers Khumo Morojele, alumnus of the True Fashion mentoring programme, and Sash Cebekhulu of Unknwn Projcts – an experimental research project that explores design centred around sustainability, Merchants on Long presents a limited edition collection made from existing designer pieces.

Part of the fabric of Merchants on Long as a brand is showcasing African designers whose work celebrates the spirit of slow fashion and cultural celebration. The Unknwn Projcts x Merchants on Long capsule upcycled collection of beautiful kimonos and coats – is the culmination of these principles.

“We thought it would be great to explore a collection that reimagined deadstock, giving new life to African design fashion pieces that were of great quality, fabric and colour but had aged due to retail having paused over the covid period. When we began thinking about this upcycled capsule collection, Unknwn Projcts was a natural choice to collaborate with,” says Jeanine Benjamin, Merchants on Long COO.

The collaborators worked together on a unisex approach of kimonos and coats that would be wearable, with flexible sizing, the collection is versatile, inclusive and unique – a colourful selection of 10 kimonos and coats inspired by the Martin Letholo Coat that Unknwn Projcts had created previously, designed with the same pattern, but all one-of-a-kind, made from different textures and cuts of material. The pieces, crafted with meticulous skill and demonstrating Sash’s classical training, reflect the collective’s deeply conceptual approach and intrinsic sense of resourcefulness.

In addition to the collection from Unknwn Projcts, Merchants on Long also launched Khumo Morejele’s newest collection, “From Me To You”, conceived with his design partner Isis-Christana Mbango as part of the True Fashion project, hosted by the French Institute of South Africa. Participants in this programme were mentored by leading designers in the sustainable fashion space to incorporate environmentally conscious design into their practice.

“From Me To You” was inspired by the works of 60s West and South African photographers where they captured the ritual of dressing up – especially amidst conflict and oppression. Morejele and Mbango work with discarded clothing that they resuscitate into new garments that reflect a merging of western and African cultures.

“These existing materials already have their own narrative, and their own stories,” said Morojele in a panel discussion held at the launch of the collection. “And when you deconstruct it, you strip it down to its story and know what it’s about, then bring in another garment that opposes it – creating this simultaneous clash and harmony of cultures.”

The collection centres around the designers’ own family portraiture, juxtaposed with current cultural sensibilities. Weaving together cultures, construction techniques and materials (vintage denim, wool and stripped materials), the pieces play with the idea of tension and contrast.

Upcycling aligns with the Merchants on Long ethos of supporting and raising awareness of designers across Africa working within a vast range of products, design disciplines and methods. Importantly, it also speaks to our commitment to slow fashion and the promotion of environmental protection by emphasising the longevity and value of garments – we encourage consumers to cherish their clothing for a lifetime,” says Summendra Chetty, buyer at Merchants on Long.

A fitting complement to Merchants on Long’s existing ranges, Khumo Morejele and Sash Cebekhulu’s collections can also be found in the boutique.

African sustainable and upcycled fashion for Merchants on Long work towards the celebration of culture and slow fashion, Image supplied: Photographer: Dicker and Dane
Image supplied: Photographer: Dicker and Dane

Share this article: