Mungo: 20 years of honest, transparent and sustainable textile manufacturing

Since the company was founded in 1998, Mungo’s towels, bedding and kitchen linens have quickly become South Africa’s most desirable – both for their exceptional quality and the brand’s admirable heritage and positive impact on the local community. Creative Feel chatted to the Mungo team to find out a bit more.  

mungoCreative Feel: Please give us a short synopsis of what you do, why you do it, and why you love it?
Mungo: Mungo is a proudly South African textile company that produces a wide range of natural fibre homeware products, all of which are individually woven at the Mungo Mill in Plettenberg Bay. We are best known for our iconic range of flat weave towels, 100% linen bedding, table and kitchen linens.
     As an independently owned, family-run business, it has been rewarding to see how we can make a positive impact by focusing on manufacturing in a sustainable way – from sourcing the raw materials we use, to empowering the local community through job creation and skills development.
     South Africa has seen its once-thriving textile industry on a steady decline due to the rise in cheap imports. We are trying to preserve the traditional art and heritage of weaving, and make it accessible to the public. It has been wonderful to see people’s awe and appreciation in being able to reconnect with the way in which something is made.

CF: How is each towel/blanket/throw/tablecloth made? Tell us a bit about the manufacturing process.
M: Mungo possesses the rare ability to produce fabric from the initial concept right through to the finished product. This allows us to be organic in our design process. Many of the designs draw inspiration from Stuart Holding’s vast library of historic pattern books, which are tweaked to give a contemporary look and feel.
     Moving into the digital age, we are in the process of archiving our library of patterns cards through a design software program, which allows for later adaptations and colour experimentation through 3D simulations.
     Once a design has been made, it is hand punched onto a pattern card and the sampling process begins. The first prototype is taken home and lived with, so that the fabric’s usefulness and individual characteristics can be taken note of. A product then grows from the cloth as we become more familiar with it.
     From here, the appropriate loom is then scheduled to weave a run. We have 16 looms, all second hand and carefully restored to their former glory.
     Once the cloth comes off the loom, it goes through rigorous inspection, and any faults are fixed by hand. After the fabric is washed, it is sent to our CMT (Cut, Make and Trim) department where it is sewn up into the Mungo pieces you see in our stores.

mungoCF: Transparency and integrity are integral to the Mungo brand. How do you go about ensuring transparency, and how does the new Mungo Mill aid in this? What can visitors to the new Mungo Mill expect?
M: The idea of the Mungo Mill was conceived years ago with a vision to share our collection of looms and weaving knowledge with the public. Through industrialisation, people have lost touch with the process of how the goods we use are made. There is a growing disconnect between manufacturer and consumer, and our aim is to bridge this gap.
     The Mungo Mill showcases a cross-section of weaving production, from pre-industrial revolution to present day. By opening our mill to the public, we hope to inspire a reconnection with the way textiles are made, and an appreciation for the makers that are the heartbeat of the industry.
     On weekdays, when the mill is in full activity, visitors have the opportunity to view the entire process of how our fine-woven textiles are produced from the elevated viewing deck that weaves around the exterior of the mill. On weekends, we offer hour-long guided tours; a chance to walk through the mill floor and learn a bit more about the design process and how each loom operates.

Find Mungo at: Plettenberg Bay | Old Nick Village | 044 533 1395 | Cape Town | 78 Hout Street | 021 201 2374 | Johannesburg | 44 Stanley | 087 135 5988 | Shop Online | www.mungo.co.za

To read more exclusive content on SMHC, Richard Bosman and how Mungo was founded, their natural fibre, high quality products, the conscious consumers of today and current trends impacting the textile industry purchase our October 2018 magazine online for only R18, or continue supporting the arts and culture industry by subscribing to our magazine or e-newsletter.