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In The Neighbourhood // The Unknown Collective + interview with founder Dominic Ellett

The Unknown Collective // Interview with founder Dominic Ellett

A few months ago having barely been open a week, Tales At Sea visited Dominic, the founder of The Unknown Collective to soak in the surroundings of his brand spanking new store and interview the founder of such an exciting new addition to the Takapuna retail landscape. The Unknown Collective store faces towards the beachfront, lying only a few hundred metres away in the distance. The store fit seamlessly into the sunny, idyllic setting of Takapuna; and the clothes and accessories stocked within the store synonymously match the culture and locale of the area. 

I hope you enjoy this interview and feel compelled to visit his store. The Unknown Collective promises a unique hands-on retailing experience for the consumer, with the brands in store declaring a special appreciation for New Zealand design.

Q :: What is The Unknown Collective?

The Unknown Collective is the first Retail store of it’s kind in New Zealand. A store that brings the best emerging NZ designers and brands to the market under one roof, we seek out quality brands that most people have never seen but deserve to see and put them for sale in our shop. We are passionate about New Zealand designed and (where possible) New Zealand made products.

Q :: What inspired you to start this creative venture?

I started my own brand (Stay True) in 2009 doing screen printed t-shirts and singlets, I sold them online and at music events but never really got the growth I was hoping for. Meanwhile I worked a few full time retail jobs to pay my bills. In April/ May of this year I decided I had had enough of working for someone else and it was time to follow my dream full time. I sat down with my parents and brother and brainstormed what opening my own store (the dream) would look like and how I could do something different everyone else. Round the dinner table one evening the idea of bringing unknown brands together under one roof - otherwise known as The Unknown Collective - was born!

Q :: What kind of experience can people expect when they walk through the doors of TUC?

In store experience is essential for us. We want our store to stand out from the sea of retailers as a place that people love to come too. We want to be the number one choice for NZ fashion and street wear. We aim to create a relaxed environment with lots of space to walk around and appreciate the products - sort of like an art gallery really (we also have a comfy couch)! We have added a personalised service experience through our Custom Cut Corner. The idea is that customers pick from our range of blank garments (tees, singlets and kids tees for summer), they then select fabrics from our fabric library (e.g. cat print, tattoo print, cowboys print etc), lastly they work with our tailor to create a unique piece just for them! Popular options have been Pockets, double pockets, sleeves, and stripes. We feel this brings an awesome creative element to shopping in store that you cannot get anywhere else!

Q :: Tell me about a few of your favourite brands that you stock, what drew you to include them in your store?

So many favourites! All of the brands are awesome and original but right now 2 of my favourites would have to be Lots Of Spirit Hat Co for their huge range of 5 Panels, Bucket Hats and Snapbacks, they are only $49 a pop so you can get a nice collection going and not be broke haha! so many different patterns to choose from though so it can be hard making a decision. Lost Boys Collection are my other favourite at the moment also all their products are handmade in New Zealand and they have an amazing summer range in store right now, summer shirts and shorts - so cool.

Q :: What's your long term vision for the store?

Long term we want to keep building up our brands and then expand to developing new stores around New Zealand. We have also established that the concept could be easily adapted to other countries I.E have a Melbourne store that stocks emerging brands from Melbourne etc.

Q :: Do you have an online store so that all New Zealanders and Internationals can get their hands on your goodies?

Online store is live right now! new products are being added all the time. check it out at

Q :: What do you think the top 3 big trends will be for 2014? 

I’m predicting a mix of athletic / american sportswear influenced pieces - we are already seeing this style come in this summer but I think it will continue into winter. Also got a feeling grungy/ punk inspired pieces are to come - leather jackets, ripped up tees, denim, acid wash etc. Lastly I think stonewashed / speckles / marle is going to be all over winter - think stonewashed greys, speckled burgundy’s  and marle oatmeals.


Don’t want to give too much away but what I will say is: Mesh, Leather, Denim, Marle.

So there we have it, a kiwi living his dream of owning his own store and making those dreams real!

Visit The Unknown Collective the following ways:

  • 62 Hurstmere Road,Takapuna,Auckland,New Zealand
Until next time my fellow friends.

Sarah xx