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Merz b. Schwanen

Peter Plotnicki, a professional designer and men’s tailor found a soft, slightly washed out, natural cotton fabric undershirt at a flea market. 

“I was 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 – no lateral seams.” He holds an authentic workers shirt made in 1911. 

The flea market vendor from Berlin bought the Henley-style longarm-undershirt at one of the last hosiery companies called “Merz b. Schwanen”. The company was founded in 1911 by Balthazar Merz and employed more than 2,000 workers over several decades – a rarity in this otherwise very poor region. Globalization finally ended the success story of the family-owned business three years before Peter Plotnicki found it – the heirs closed the manufactory due to a lack of orders.

Touched by the tragic, but sadly very common story of the company, Peter Plotnicki visits the Swabian Alps and meets one of the last textile manufacturers, Rudolf Loder. The latter surprises Plotnicki with a room full of authentic circular knitting machines from the 1920s to 60s – unused, crusted with dust, but completely intact.

Peter and his wife Gitta revived the machines in order to fabricate new, but traditionally made circular knitware. 

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