Merz b. Schwanen - The Story Behind Their Loopwheel Success

With their heritage dating back over 100 years, Merz B. Schwanen is a brand that not only oozes history but also an authentic passion like no other. The roots of the brand date back to 1911, when it was first launched by Balthasar Merz on the Swabian Alb in Germany. The brand was first labelled as "Balthasar Merz beim Schwanen" and remained a family owned business until 2008 when unfortunately globalisation processes that dominated the following decades of the 20th Century caused a decline in the German textile industry and the brand was forced to close its doors. But luckily for us all, in 2011 life and business partners Peter and Gitta Plotnicki discovered an original henley workman shirt from the former brand at a flea market in Berlin. As vintage enthusiasts, both coming from backgrounds as fashion designers and Pete as a professional men’s tailor they knew this find was a very special piece.

“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 side seams.”

This discovery sparked by their passion for authentic clothing and their vision to revive the traditional way of textile production was the new beginning for Merz B. Schwanen. However it wasn't just about recreating the brand, it was about reviving traditional methods and combining that with a modern and sustainable approach. Knowing the origins of the henley, the Plotnickis headed straight to the Swabian Alb, where they met one of the last textile manufactures, Rudolf Loder. As a stroke of luck it just so happened that Mr Loder’s facility was full of authentic circular knitting machines from the 1889’s to 1960’s… all unused and covered with dust - waiting and ready for the rebirth of the brand.  

These machines are known as loopwheelers. A machine that moves so slowly it takes an hour to make just one meter of fabric. But it is this slow pace that keeps any tension out of the knit, making a softer, stronger fabric than any other machine. And because it is knitted on a loop it produces garments with the added bonus of no side seams. They were first manufactured during the modernisation of the garment industry, at the beginning of the 20th Century. The concept behind them was to produce innovative and very comfortable warp-knitted fabrics, which today is simply known as jersey. However the fabrics which are produced on a loopwheeler look and feel quite differently in comparison to the ones we know are made from modern machines. 

It's not just the look and feel that makes Merz B Schwanen stand out... it's the quality. Their durability will stand the test of time and with every piece carefully crafted and developed in Berlin by Peter and Gitta Plotnicki personally, you know the love and care that has gone into each and every item will give you a garment that is iconic yet modern, comfortable and of high quality in a subtle, timeless design and made from eco-friendly materials.

Check out our vast selection of henleys, t-shirts, sweatshirts and more now in-store and online.