Add brilliant colour to your life with Melbourne fashion brand FOOL

Launched over 30 years ago, Melbourne fashion brand FOOL is the city’s best-kept fashion secret. Founded by Rowena Doolan, the label is now a family affair with Pep Doolan working collaboratively with Rowena on everything ‘FOOL’ and especially on creating original prints and knitwear designs.

Rowena says that fashion and garment design has always been a calling, from her earliest memories she was encouraged by her mother to make things and sew, which led to her abiding interest in fashion.

“Colour has always been a source of great fascination too, and FOOL reflects both of these childhood influences,” she explains.

“After many years working both locally and internationally as a designer in the fashion industry, my dream was always to start my own label. FOOL has enabled me to work more freely and to fully realise my ideas without the various constraints imposed by others.”

After hours spent in their own creative space above the FOOL store in Greville Street – where it has been for 27 years – Pep studied Fashion Design at RMIT.

“Pep has always been an artsy and creative person, and has always wanted to work in an innovative field,” Rowena says.

As for the name, it doesn’t mean a ‘silly person’, rather it stems from the word’s historical context explains the team: “A Fool is a vibrant character, fun, they create a spectacle. Fool also means to be bold, brave, to live without judgement.”


“We draw on the incredibly diverse realm of design both locally and globally. We both use Instagram, Pinterest and travel, and look at content creators, photographers, musicians,” explain Pep and Rowena.

“We gather images, swatches, artworks, fabrics and garment shapes and then we create an inspiration board, before putting pen to paper to draw up the full look, complete with hairstyles, shoes and makeup. 

“This sense of open-mindedness and inclination to find inspiration from the unlikely is what sees the FOOL aesthetic continually evolve, and the organic process from vision to finished piece is a cathartic one for us. Each season reflects our moods, our interests and the world around us at that moment in time.”

For Pep and Rowena, the brand concept revolves around creating “fashion with a purpose, a way of life, an expressive form of wearable art” which they believe is “all too rare in today’s fast fashion world”. 

“In a landscape of dark colours we aim to dress people in bright playful colours to stand out from the crowd and to express themselves,” they explain.

In a city of people ironically known for their love of wearing all-black-everything, the brilliant colours of FOOL stand out. 

“FOOL’s brand aesthetic is influenced by global and cultural diversity, our love of colour, texture, shapes and patterns that are embodied in our designs, and each piece communicates a philosophy which is bright, bold and irreverent,” say Pep and Rowena. 

“Our distinct aesthetic and niche method of design are the traits that truly set FOOL apart.”

For Pep and Rowena, having the store is an important part of the brand’s DNA, they see the ability for people to touch and feel the textures of the garments and try on the shapes as essential.

“… customer service; is KEY to FOOL’s ongoing success, the loyalty of our customers, and their personal evolution into full-fledged FOOLS,” they say. 

“Being a FOOL is about feeling good in your skin, and a big part of that is about feeling good in your clothes. We always think about the ways fashion communicates; it says so much about who we are, what we do and how we feel. 

“Because of that, we’re interested in using fashion to nurture a sense of joy, playfulness and fun in everyday life.” 


Pep and Rowena work closely with their pattern maker to design each FOOL garment; they oversee all alterations, and coordinate all the production. Everything is designed in the Prahran studio above the store and are actually made within driving distance. For example, the brand’s cotton and wool knits are produced in a Brunswick factory.

“It’s so important to have close relationships with makers. We love creative collaborations, and it’s vital to support the local industries,” Rowena and Pep explain.

“For FOOL, local manufacturing is both an ethical issue and an issue of practicality. We want our local fashion industry to thrive. We want to use people’s skills, and it’s essential to us that we can work with people face to face, regularly. 

“FOOL have so many talented people here in Melbourne that it just makes sense to us to engage with them. We like to be hands-on in the making process, so we need to be able to get to our makers on a weekly basis. 

“We use excellent fabrics in our garments as well as upcycling material offcuts to reproduce and create new garments, longevity of product is important at FOOL. 

“Customers not only love the quality, the colour and the eye-catching items but they know they are getting a product that is unique and that they are proud to be seen in.”


Pep and Rowena say their long term goals for FOOL is to broaden the brand’s range of products and grow their customers.

“In the years we’ve been designing we’ve seen the fashion landscape in Melbourne change, particularly around Greville and Chapel Street. It’s so important for us to maintain our independence,” explain Rowena and Pep. 

“Part of that decision means sourcing fabrics and making our garments locally. Independence means small, it means local, it can mean a better attention to detail and quality. FOOL’s independence definitely supports a vibrant local culture.

“We want people to wake up and use their imagination when they’re getting dressed! Our garments start conversations, and we think that’s a hugely important and positive thing.” 

Visit the FOOL store at 118 Greville Street, Prahran, or shop online at and follow the brand on Instagram at @fool118

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