“Mungo was founded by Master Weaver Stuart Holding. Through Stuart’s skill and passion for weaving he restored two antique looms and created the Mungo Working Weaving Museum. Since then Stuart has accumulated a small collection of looms from different weaving eras and developed Mungo’s wide range of products.” – www.mungo.co.za
Q: When did you start making homeware textiles and what inspired you to start?A: Stuart, who founded Mungo, grew up in the north of England and began an apprenticeship at the Yorkshire silk mills at the age of sixteen. Weaving became his trade and skill. The desire to create quality and unique cloth became a passion along with restoring antique looms. After restoring two abandoned 19th century Hattersley looms in 1998, Mungo was born. It is now a family-run business.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: Creating a quality, transparent and sustainable product. In a world of mass production, being able to produce items with a story that is real is one of our driving forces. It is also inspiring to see how the growth of the business is affecting the community in a positive way.
At Mungo we blend traditional weaving with contemporary design. Many of the designs are inspired by historic pattern books and tweaked to have a modern edge. Some of our latest additions include a range of innovative African-inspired woven designs, each one with its own story and origin.
Q: What makes your product different from others in your field?
A: With the rise of mass production in the east and exploitation in the global textile industry we are seeing an increased demand for sustainable, fair-trade textiles. We create a niche product that is of superior quality and design, that fulfils the needs of a modern day consumer – product that is produced using local materials (where possible), local skills, and in an ethical and sustainable manner. We manufacture using vintage equipment alongside modern technology and understand the heritage behind our industry.
Q: You have the rare ability to create fabrics from inception of design to final product, what are the benefits of doing so?
A: We can then control the whole process, make sure each step is done to our standards and quality. There is transparency in the production chain which is important when producing an ethical product. We can also, to some degree, control the costs (although production costs are high in South Africa) as there is no third party buying, selling, importing costs that add to the end price.
Q: Tell us about your future vision for Mungo
A: Mungo has become a family affair. Stuart’s two children are heading up the marketing and logistics of the company and have ambitious plans.
The next big step is to get all our production, designing, weaving and finishing under one roof (apart from a small range which will continue to be woven at the Cape Town Micro Mill). This will take the form of an interactive production facility that is soon to be built at Old Nick
Village in Plettenberg Bay. This will be open to the public. As an educational center it will represent weaving heritage, technology and its evolution from the pre-industrial revolution to date.
In this day and age there is a growing disconnect between the manufacturer and the consumer. Our aim is to bridge this gap.