Clothing is the embodiment of our human interconnectedness, with each other and with our earth.
By applying natural fibers and earth conscious practices,
we create real wearables that last and bring joy.
Our Story of Menck Clothing
Founded in 2001, Menck Clothing is a Cape Town based women’s wear range designed by Ilse Menck and manufactured locally by women from the Cape Flats.
To me clothing is the embodiment of our human interconnectedness and, if garments are produced with an earth consciousness, then the cloth on our skin also connects us to our natural surroundings. With this clothing range, my commitment is to combine nature inspired design with sustainable natural fibers, along with minimal garment processing or intervention, to provide you with ‘real wearables’ – garments that fit well, flatter, last and are earth conscious.
With sustainability in mind, natural fibers such as hemp and pure linens are used. Hemp is one of the most durable and earth friendly fibers on earth. The crops are fast growing, needing little to no pesticides or water and feed nutrients back into the soil. Added to this, the micro fibers are long, making the fabric strong durable. From cradle to grave, hemp is an earth conscious investment.
Pure linen is derived from the flax crops, which also require little use of pesticides and water, and when traditionally processed (mostly in Europe), water is used instead of chemicals, which keeps the fabric strong and adverse environmental impact to a minimum.
In 2020 I started working in collaboration with Jane Solomon from Fabricnation in the application of chemical free plant based dyeing of my garments, called Menck EcoPrint. I am also exploring chemical free colour dyes, such as natural indigo, to be introduced into my production.
About Ilse Menck
My inspiration and work, the makers and the wearers of my clothing – we are all interdependent, like the weft and weave of beautiful cloth.
It is this interdependence that keeps the inspiration flowing…
I made my own clothes from the age of 12 and wore my patchwork creations with pride.
Much later, after completing my studies at UCT, I spent 3 years overseas where the pre-millennial London formed the multi-textured backdrop for my part time studies in ‘Experimental Design’ at the Central Saint Martins School of Design. At the same time, my day job of selling sandwiches for ‘Darwin’s Deli’ taught me more about business than any business course could have.
I returned to South Africa in January 2000 and enrolled at the Cape Town School of Fashion Design followed by a course in Clothing Manufacture- and Production Techniques at a Technical College. I started my business after hours during these studies, producing wedding dresses, ball gowns, men’s wear, and bespoke suits.
In the following years I supplied boutiques such as Wild Oscar and O’live with predominantly men’s wear styles but have since moved to a focus on women’s day wear, and on directly supplying my customers via my Cape Town based home sales and now my online shop.
I am extremely grateful for all the skill, time and effort that has gone into making each of my garments over the years. Each seamstress, cutter, pattern grader, quality controller, ironer and manager deserves mention. These women and men silently work behind the scenes to provide us our daily garments, which with time reflect our own identity and individual expression.
Thank you to my mentors, especially Yvonne Olivier, who fed me with so much rich information and support. Thanks to my husband, Neil, for always encouraging me and never doubting my obstinate drive and thanks to my children for being so patient.
To all my loyal Menck customers, many who have become friends over the years, THANK YOU!!! Without your enthusiasm, love and support, I would not feel inspired to create.