Integrity & Ethos

Socially responsible weaving

Nearly two decades ago, Master Weaver Stuart Holding founded Mungo, a company that produces quality linens, throws, blankets, bedding, towels, and apparel. Based in the seaside town of Plettenberg Bay in South Africa, and housed in the historical homestead of Old Nick Village, Mungo prides itself in its integrity and trading ethos.

Holding, who acquired weaving skills during a five year apprenticeship in the Weaving Mills of Yorkshire U.K., traveled to South Africa where weaver technicians were in great demand. Frustrated with how the industry operated and its non-innovative ways, Holding decided to take things into in own hands by first building a loom and then learned how to spin. His first projects were curtains and jackets for customers who appreciated quality hand-made apparel and home decor.

After leasing an old trading store, the Old Nick, Holding began to teach the locals to spin and weave. As his business expanded, so did the premises. The workshop was now located in an old school house at The Crags that was nearby. He purchased power looms and developed a variety of pure cotton fabric and made the South African version of the classical mohair blanket sold under the name Stuart Holding Fabrics that were sold locally and internationally.

The product then grows from the cloth as we become familiar with its individual characteristics.

After a series of business ventures that weren’t a good fit, Holding decided to return to his one passion—designing and weaving textiles. From that enthusiasm for developing fabric, Mungo was brought to life. The company represented Holding’s philosophy and aesthetic, which included sourcing quality natural fibers—primarily cotton (sourced from Swaziland, Tanzania, and South Africa), linen, wool, mohair, chenille and bamboo—to produce unique textiles that are made to last.

In developing the textiles, Mungo’s design process is organic—from an initial idea to the final result. Some of designs are inspired from historic pattern books with a contemporary look incorporated into the overall look. According to Lilah Byne, Mungo’s marketing communications representative, “We still lay out the design on traditional graph paper, which is translated and punched by hand onto the pattern cards. Once one of our fabrics has been designed and created we will take it home and live with it. It is tested and used. The product then grows from the cloth as we become familiar with its individual characteristics. It is from here onwards that our fabrics and products are refined, resulting in exemplary handle and quality.”

Mungo’s production consists of two weaving operations. The working Weaving Museum is the hub where all the sampling is developed on 19th Century Hattersley looms. Situated at Old Nick Village (Mungo HQ) and open for the public to view how the looms work. The boutique mill comprises of the company’s inspection and warping equipment along with the Rapier looms that weave wider width fabrics.

Mungo will be attending from August 21-24 Artisan Resource at NY NOW held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. The company will be exhibiting their vibrant range of African Threads, and for the first time Mungo will be exhibiting the Mungo Mali Cloth.

For more information, visit www.mungo.co.za.

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