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FAQ – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

PRODUCTION

Where does Merz b. Schwanen produce?

All fabrics of the GOOD ORIGINALS line are produced on the Swabian Alb in Germany on original loopwheelers, i.e., circular warping machines. The GOOD BASICS are produced with carefully selected partners in Portugal.


What is a loopwheeler?

A loopwheeler is a circular warping machine - similar to a circular knitting machine, but it warps the fabric instead of knitting it. It is equipped with approximately 1000 tiny needles which rotate around a cylinder over and over again. During this process, they warp the thread coming from the bobbin row by row. In most cases, the resulting fabric has no side seams, as there is a loopwheeler in the appropriate size for each clothing size. In warping, the course of the thread is vertical. Thus, warping is the opposite of knitting, where the thread runs horizontally. Loopwheelers were widely used in the textile industry until the 1960s - the time when producers started to replace them with modern machines to increase productivity.


What are the advantages of loopwheelers and tubular shirts?

During the warping process, almost no pressure is put on the threads. This results in exceptionally soft and pleasant fabrics. Since we produce the fabrics on loopwheelers, they are produced in a 'tube', i.e., WITHOUT side seams. This prevents the problem of twisted fabric: after repeated washing, the side seams are often no longer parallel to each other and thus twist the shirt. By us: No side seams, no twisted fabric!

The production on loopwheelers is environmentally friendly, as it saves electricity and can be used for a long time. In addition, it allows the production of unique fabrics and provides good working conditions, as the machines are very quiet and rarely need any replacement parts. All our circular knitting machines are interconnected and driven by a single motor connected with old leather belts.


How old are the loopwheelers used by Merz b. Schwanen?  

The oldest loopwheeler is from 1889, and the youngest is from 1965.



What is unique/special about the fabrics you produce on the old loopwheelers?

Each of our machines has its own individual character. The reasons: the oldest is from 1889, and the youngest is from 1965, with almost 70 years of machine development in between. Moreover, the machines are from different manufacturers and therefore have different characteristics. Also, the temperature plays a significant role: when the machines are still cold in the morning or winter, they run pretty differently. Well, maybe a bit like most people. Depending on the temperature, different stitch patterns are created. These 'old ladies' are purely mechanical machines. Every adjustment still has to be made by hand, with a lot of intuition and sensitiveness. With today's modern machines, every millimeter and every milligram can be precisely regulated and continuously controlled by computers.


Is there another particular characteristic of the fabric?

In the technical term, another unique feature of these old giants, French circular warping machines, is the gauge. Our machines have a 26 gauge. This means that 26 needles appear on a French inch (the Paris inch is 2.707 cm). So there are much fewer needles than on more modern machines. This allows us to produce our unique fabrics with that extra gritty and textured surface. We are incredibly proud of our Heavy Slub fabric, perhaps the heaviest jersey fabric worldwide, or our new Pique fabric with a unique structure.


What material is a loopwheeler made of?       

The loopwheelers we use are made of classic industrial steel. Each one weighs approximately 60kg.


How many loopwheelers / circular warping machines are currently in use at Merz b. Schwanen?       

We currently work with 32 machines. Each size needs its own loopwheeler.

Some materials also require their own machines. All of them are still set and adjusted by hand. Also, the adjustment for different materials is entirely made by hand; nothing is computer-controlled. This is an old craft, and only a few knitters still have this knowledge.


How are the loopwheelers operated?

One single motor powers almost all machines via leather transmission belts, which is particularly sustainable and energy-efficient.


PRODUCTS


What is the difference between the 1950s and the 215?

The cut is the same, only the material differs. The 1950s is made from 1-thread count called 'Prima Qualität Leicht', weighing 155 grams (5.5oz.). All "19s" products are made from this material. In contrast, 'Prima Qualität' has a grittier feel - since two threads are used for it. It weighs 245 grams (8.6 oz.). Recognizable by the "2" in the name (215, 214, or 207…).


How do I find the right Merz b. Schwanen size?

The fit of Merz b. Schwanen GOOD ORIGINALS products is a given size due to the production on the historical loopwheeler machines, whereas each one produces one size. You can find the measurements on each product page under 'Size & Fit' in our online shop. The easiest way to find the right size is to measure your favorite shirt and compare it to the measurements of the Merz b. Schwanen shirt you like. Are you still unsure? Our experience shows that most customers tend to choose one size above their usual size.


Does Merz b. Schwanen offer plus sizes?

We offer the GOOD ORIGINALS and the men's line of GOOD BASICS up to size 8/XXL.

The GOOD ORIGINALS are produced on our original circular knitting machines without side seams. This means that each size has its own machine. Unfortunately, there are no such machines in sizes larger than XXL, and we currently have no way to get them. As soon as we see a chance to change this, we will be happy to do so. Women and men gladly wear the GOOD ORIGINALS.


Are there also larger sizes for the women's pieces?

Good news!

Starting from AW2022, we will offer the knitwear of the women's collection also in size XL. 

The T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweatpants of the women's collection are from the GOOD BASICS line. These are made in Portugal in family-run manufactories, and we have pretty high minimums per size here. In the past, we offered larger sizes but unfortunately didn't get to the quantities we needed to form a production perspective. 

Of course, we are constantly working to increase our quantities and thus reach the requested production minimums for larger sizes. Should this be the case, we intend to offer larger sizes as well.


Why do the GOOD ORIGINALS change their length in the 1st wash?

With the GOOD ORIGINALS, we omit an additional industrial prewash. Therefore, depending on the material, they shrink about 2-3 cm in length. However, this shrinkage length is already calculated when cutting the product, and extra length is added. So it may be that the first time you try on the shirt, it seems a little too long. But be sure: after the first wash, it fits perfectly.


Why do some Merz b. Schwanen sweatshirts have side seams?

Due to the cut, Sweatshirts with raglan sleeves can only be sewn with side seams. Sweatshirts made from the 3S fabric (e.g., 3S48) need to have side seams inserted due to the heavier feel of the material. 


What do you do with returned products that have a production defect and can no longer be sold?

It hurts to dispose of any garments which are still good to wear. Therefore, we donate all returns that have a minor manufacturing defect or have barely been worn to a local homeless shelter in Berlin.


MATERIALS


What materials does Merz b. Schwanen use?

Our products are made from various natural and sustainable materials - such as Maco Imit, Prima Qualität Leicht, Prima Qualität, cotton 3-thread, cotton jersey, and high-quality pure wool. You can learn more about our materials on our dedicated page.


Why do you use viscose for your Maco Imit material?

The blend of cotton and viscose is a tribute to the high-quality Maco cotton from Egypt, which was highly valued 100 years ago but was rare and very expensive. The addition of viscose helped to recreate the unique feel of original Egyptian Maco cotton by making it extra soft and silky. Maco Imit has already existed for a century and was revived by Merz b. Schwanen, based on a 100-year-old original from the Maschenmuseum Albstadt.


BUY MERZ B. SCHWANEN      


I would like to buy a Merz b. Schwanen product in a store. Can you tell me where I can find it?

In our retailer list, you can easily find the nearest retailer in your area. However, we have no insight into the current stocks of the retailers, as they operate independently from us.


In which countries can buy Merz b. Schwanen?

Our products are now sold in approximately 35 countries in 350 stores. In our retailer list, you can find out if there is a retailer near you.


ORDERING


Why is it useful to create a customer account? 

Creating a customer account saves you a lot of time as there's no need to re-enter your data each time you place an order. For future orders, your information is automatically stored, which simplifies the ordering process. We make sure that your data is absolutely safe. In addition, you have all orders at a glance.


What payment options do I have?

We offer PayPal or via credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) as payment options. If both payment options are not an option, send us an email with all information (name, item, shipping address, billing address) to shop@merzbschwanen.com, and we will find a good solution.


Are my credit card information and personal data safe?

We guarantee the absolute security of your data, as all information is sent encrypted. You can find more information about this in our privacy policy.


When will my credit card be debited?

Your credit card will only be debited when the order is bindingly placed.


How will I receive my invoice?

The delivery bill is in the same package as the goods. The invoice will be sent by e-mail.


The product is sold out. When will it be available again?

Regarding the availability of our products, we distinguish between seasonal items, all-time favorites, and always-back-in-stock items. 


Seasonal Styles: Each season, we offer highlights that are only available in that season. This includes all-time favorites in seasonal colors. So hurry up...;-)

All Time Favorites: These are the styles that are especially beloved by our customers and are therefore offered again and again. If your favorite item from this line happens to be unavailable, sign up for an email notification on 'Notify me' so you'll know immediately when your favorite from this line is available again.

Always-back-in-stock / Always in stock: The absolute top sellers in the GOOD ORIGINALS line are constantly being re-produced, so we always have them in stock. These are marked with 'Always-in-stock'. Although we do our best to always offer these styles, they can still be unavailable temporarily when demand is very high. We apologize for this. Just sign up to 'notify me' for an email alert: Your desired piece from this series should be back for you very soon.


BRAND


Why is the brand called Merz b. Schwanen?

The brand is named 'Merz b. Schwanen' after its foundation by Balthasar Merz in 1911.

The descendants of Balthasar Merz have officially allowed Plotnickis to continue the name. For this, Gitta & Peter Plotnicki are incredibly grateful and consider it an honor to continue this company name.


What does the swan mean?

There are two different stories about why the brand has the addition 'beim Schwanen'. One says that Balthasar Merz owned a guesthouse called 'Beim Schwanen' before the brand was founded. The other story says that the yarn of the brand 'Schwanen' was of especially high quality at that time, and the textiles of the brand were made from this yarn. 

You are spoilt for choice as to which variant you like best.


THE OWNERS 


Who are the owners of Merz b. Schwanen?     

The owners are Gitta and Peter Plotnicki. They have been married since 2002 and have a son together. Together they made their lifelong dream come true and revived the brand in 2010.    


What did they both do before Merz b. Schwanen?

Gitta and Peter are both graduated fashion designers and worked for two decades as freelance designers for brands in lifestyle, beauty, as well as sports- and activewear. Peter completed an apprenticeship as a journeyman tailor before his studies; Gitta did a bank apprenticeship and worked abroad.


What are Gitta Plotnicki's hobbies?

Gitta loves nature and especially enjoys surfing, hiking, and cycling. In addition, she enjoys meeting friends, cooking, yoga, reading, and meditating.


What are Peter Plotnicki's hobbies?

Peter loves photography and always has his Leica with him. He also takes all the photos for Merz b. Schwanen. Moreover, he loves surfing, cycling, jogging, cooking, reading, and meditating.


What is Gitta and Peter Plotnicki's vision?

Both wish to contribute to more mindfulness, calmness, and serenity in the world.

"Looking and feeling good" is an essential part of this in their opinion: "When we feel good, we act from the heart" - Gitta & Peter Plotnicki.