J'N'C 2/2020

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The story of sustainable brand Merz b. Schwanen is quite a special one: hundreds of years after it was established, married couple Peter and Gitta Plotnicki have breathed new life into the family-run business in the Swabian Alps. And almost everything has remained as it was — especially the aspect of sustainability. Creative director Gitta Plotnicki talked to us about the past, present and future of the brand.

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Tell us a little about the company history. Merz b. Schwanen was an old, family-run business. How and why did you decide to bring it back to life? At a flea market in Berlin we came across an original men’s work shirt from the 1920s. We were fascinated by the unusual material, the triangular inserts under the arms and the carefully woven textile label with lettering in fine viscose yarn. And it had no side seams. The brand was originally founded by Balthasar Merz in the Swabian Alps. The invention of the circular knitting machine made it easy to create really comfortable jerseys. Our idea was to produce shirts in the traditional style using the old manufacturing methods

with the same quality – on the original circular knitting machines. That’s how the Merz b. Schwanen brand was revived after 100 years. Since 2011 you’ve been following the sustainable route with Merz b. Schwanen – what made you do that and has anything changed since? Sustainability and social responsibility have always been central aspects of the philosophy at Merz b. Schwanen, even in the early days when it was first founded. Each of our textile products are made with natural materials and top-quality craftsmanship, not to mention honest passion from everyone involved. We con-

tinue to move forward, especially when it comes to the basic tenets of our social, ethical and ecological responsibility, which is reflected in all steps of our manufacturing process: starting with the choice of materials, along the entire production chain down to the environmentally friendly packaging. Where are your products made and which materials are used? The ‘Good Originals’ textiles are still made on 100-year-old, original circular knitting machines in the Swabian Alps. In terms of design, the ‘Good Basics’ line is slightly more modern and produced in Porto. We use family-run sewing factories in Ger-