Now & then
The roots of Merz b. Schwanen date back to 1911.
Balthasar Merz started running the textile manufactory on the Swabian Alb in Germany.
Gitta & Peter Plotnicki, life- and business partners based in Berlin, re-established the brand after the descendants of the founder had shut down the production.
An over 90-year-old henley of the former brand caught the couple's eyes at a flea market in Berlin.
Their passion for authentic clothing and their vision to revive the traditional way of textile production to combine it with a modern sustainable approach lead them to the Swabian Alb.
THE HERITAGE LIVES ON
"We are continuing the story of Merz b. Schwanen by combining authentic with contemporary designs, made of sustainable fabric blends,
all created with respect to the brand's heritage." (Gitta Plotnicki)
The fateful find
Soft, slightly washed out, natural cotton fabric, old, sometimes battered hampers clad in cloth and a wristband made with different-sized meshes – that was something Gitta & Peter Plotnicki had never encountered before.
“We were instantly fascinated by the triangular inserts under the arms and the intricate label with its lettering made with fine viscose thread. And on top of it all – it had no sideseams.”
They held an authentic workers shirt from 1911 in their hands.
Gitta & Peter Plotnicki, both fashion designers and Peter also professional men's tailor, instantly knew that this flea market find was a very special piece.
A feeling of happiness overcame them.
Gitta & Peter instantly knew that this rarity was destined to alter the course of their whole lives.
old gentle giants
Gitta & Peter Plotnicki visited the Swabian Alb and met one of the last textile manufacturers there, Rudolf Loder.
The latter surprised the Plotnickis with a room full of authentic circular knitting machines from the 1889s to 60s – unused and covered with dust.
“Gitta's and Peter’s idea to revive these machines in order to fabricate new, but traditionally made circular knitwear, amazed me”, said Loder.
Rudolf Loder is a 'textilist' with heart and soul.
Together, the three started to put their idea into practice.
patience & faith
Ambition, patience, and confidence are key.
The headquarters are established in Berlin where Peter and Gitta Plotnicki have been living for many years. While the two develop the first collection, the distribution strategy and thus lay the groundwork for Merz b. Schwanen, Rudolf Loder tinkered persistently with his old machines in Albstadt.
It took a whole year to restore the complex mechanical machines. It still is a particular challenge to find skilled people to operate these old machines.
The project began to raise dust in the Swabian Alb – especially Balthasar Merz’ descendants are intrigued by the entrepreneurial vision. They offer the Plotnickis their old brand name 'Merz b. Schwanen'
“We were thrilled. Suddenly, we held more than a century of company history in our hands. We couldn’t have wished for better support and a more effective motivation”, Peter Plotnicki said.
In January 2011, right on time for the company anniversary, Merz b. Schwanen presented its first new collection at the international fashion fair 'Bread and Butter' in Berlin. The idea of using authentic worker’s clothes from the 20s, 30s, and 40s as model and inspiration and blending them with a modern design was an unbelievably huge success.
Gitta & Peter Plotnicki say: "We are continuing the story of Merz b. Schwanen, with modern designs and new fabric blends – always developing new styles, created with respect to the rich heritage of the brand.”
...and the swan?
The swan is a symbol of energy, pureness, and freedom.
Moreover, it represents an end followed by a good new beginning...