Discover Germany, Issue 89, January 2022

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Discover Germany  |  Design  |  Organic Brand of the Month

Photo: Matt Hind

ORIGINAL, ORGANIC – SIMPLY GOOD BASICS The great comeback of the German textile brand Merz b. Schwanen started when designer couple Gitta and Peter Plotnicki found what was an over 90-year-old shirt at a Berlin flea market. They traced its origin back to the Swabian Alb area of Germany and successfully revived the brand and its traditional production methods. TEXT: MARILENA STRACKE  |  PHOTOS: MERZ B. SCHWANEN

As soon as that 90-year-old henley shirt caught the eyes of Gitta and Peter Plotnicki at the flea market, they knew they had to investigate and, indeed, they tracked down the brand. Merz b. Schwanen was founded in 1911 by Balthasar Merz but his descendants had shut down the production. “The idea to use the old loopwheelers and re-establish the brand caused some commotion in the Swabian Alb. Even Merz’ descendants were fascinated by the designers’ entrepreneurial vision,” marketing manager Matthias Balzer says. “That’s why they offered them the use of the original brand name ‘Merz b. Schwanen.” “We were thrilled,” Peter Plotnicki adds. “Suddenly we were responsible for a brand with over a century’s worth of history. We couldn’t have imagined any better support or motivation.” 8  |  Issue 89  |  January 2022

Since the brand’s revival in 2011, sustainability has played a major role. Exclusively using sustainable materials as well as ensuring eco-friendly production methods are at the heart of Merz b. Schwanen. “We want to combine the ‘good stuff’ from the past with the requirements of the present time. Equally, we want to act responsibly now for a better future tomorrow,” Gitta and Peter Plotnicki explain. The manufacturing of the garments using the old loopwheelers made during the years between 1889 and 1960 is time-consuming, but is also what makes the pieces so unique. Not many original loopwheelers are left these days and Merz b. Schwanen is the only brand using this traditional production method in the whole of Europe. As a result, the garments not only look different and feel superb but are also long-lasting.

Aside from the Swabian Alb manufacturing, a new line called ‘GOOD BASICS’ is being produced at socially and environmentally responsible, family-led companies in Portugal. Timeless design, innovation and of course a great deal of history – all that goes into the making of each and every piece of clothing by Merz b. Schwanen.