We’re enjoying a major crush on local designers who prove that we can produce quality fashion of an international standard right here on the southern tip of Africa. Cape Town label, Mareth | Colleen is the perfect example.
Mareth | Colleen is a local fashion brand founded by duo, Mareth van der Walt and Colleen Lesch. Together they create designs that reflect their refusal to be dictated to by trends and commitment to clean lines and strong silhouettes. They are also of the school that quality and production restraint should prevail over fast fashion and mass production. Passionate about empowering the local manufacturing community, and about reflecting their proudly South African roots in their designs, they use locally sourced talent and materials to make their creations. “For us, as a South African brand, it was really important to use local talent and resources.”
A BIT OF BACKGROUND STUFF
Mareth van der Walt and Colleen Lesch met while studying fashion design at the Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion in Stellenbosch. After completing their studies, they took different but complementary paths.
After Stellenbosch, Colleen studied part time in London for one year at the London School of Fashion. While there, she also did an internship at Alexander McQueen which she describes as “an amazing experience.” During this exciting internship, she drew up patterns and worked on textile designs as part of the Alexander McQueen design team.
Mareth went on to spend two and half years working for local magazine, Sarie. While she worked mainly as a stylist, she also gained valuable experience by helping out with the online store. Her boss at the time was current Spree Fashion Director, Chris Viljoen, who provided her with loads of useful advice and was in fact, one of their first online wholesale customers.
In addition to their own studio and shop in Cape Town, the intrepid duo recently opened another gorgeous shop in Stellenbosch. They also supply shops like Convoy in Bree Street (Cape Town), Convoy in Johannesburg and are now also available on the Equilibrio online shop.
A QUICK Q&A WITH MARETH
You seemed to take different paths after meeting while studying. How did the Mareth | Colleen partnership come about?
Colleen returned to Cape Town and I wanted to find out all about the McQueen internship. I went to visit her and we started talking about what it actually takes to start a business and produce international clothing locally. We both studied fashion design and we had no idea how to start a brand. So, we decided to just start with a few patterns and supply a friend’s shop and take it from there!
What’s your favourite thing about being part of a design duo?
You have a soundboard – it is so important to bounce ideas, opinions and important decisions off each other.
How do you resolve “creative differences”?
Luckily, we don’t have a lot if creative differences! We usually get excited about the same things at the same time – like for example neither of us ever really liked the colour red and then one season we both were just gravitating towards red prints and fabrics. It’s weird but it works!
What do you find is your biggest challenge in the SA Fashion Industry?
Unfortunately, we feel there are a lot of factors that make this industry very challenging. The country’s struggling economy for one. People want to support local but money’s tight for many of these people.
What does the future hold for the Mareth | Colleen brand?
We want to grow more in Johannesburg – we always loved going there when we supplied Stuttafords. The energy is infectious. Online shopping in SA has grown very slowly but it is picking up and we feel that shopping online should become an experience on its own.
SHOP MARETH | COLLEEN NOW ON EQUILIBRIO
We have a wonderful selection of Mareth | Colleen garments now available to shop online right here at Equilibrio. You can click the links below to take you directly to the items on our shop where we have more images and information including a detailed size guide. More items will also be added soon.
The supremely classic and elegant Meg Dress
This is a stunner and looks great on everybody! What’s great about this dress is the sleek fabric and the small shoulder pads which help it fit just right.
1. Mareth | Colleen Meg Dess in Emerald, R1399 BUY
2. Mareth | Colleen Meg Dess in Burgundy, R1399 BUY
3. Mareth | Colleen Meg Dess in Black, R1399 BUY
Gorgeous summer prints
Mareth | Colleen has truly mastered the art of the wrap-dress. These limited-edition summer prints are perfect for a spring Day!
1. Mareth | Colleen Philly Wrap Dress in a Hand Painted Print, R1299. This is Mareth | Colleen’s own print made using a hand-painted print created by Colleen. Simply stunning! BUY
3. Mareth | Colleen Philly Wrap Dress in Summer Print, R1299 BUY
A great everyday dress
We love the Holly dress because it has a slightly flared skirt with a length just below the knee. And don’t forget the all-important pockets!
Mareth | Colleen Holly Dress, R890 in Black BUY
Mareth | Colleen Holly Dress, R890 in Red BUY
Mareth | Colleen Holly Dress, R890 in White BUY
The popular stash dress (as worn by Equilibrio to SAFW)
We wore this wonderful floaty dress to SA Fashion Week, styled with an Edition1 scarf for the slightly chilly evening.
Mareth | Colleen Stash Dress, R1590 BUY
Happy shopping! SEE ALL MARETH | COLLEEN HERE
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