In the world of basic clothing items, where price often takes center stage, only a few brands have managed to capture the attention of buyers seeking high-quality garments. Merz b. Schwanen, founded by Gitta and Peter Plotnicki, embarked on a journey to revive traditional textile craftsmanship in Germany while creating sustainable and simply good basics.
What initially started as a passion project soon evolved into a thriving business that continues to cater to a demanding niche audience. In this interview, we delve into the factors that have contributed to the brand's success, its distinctive approach to quality and design, and its ongoing efforts to meet and exceed customer expectations.
1. Most people only focus on price when they buy basic clothing items. What made the founders believe there was a large enough market interested in high-quality?
Gitta & Peter Plotnicki followed their dream and vision to revive the traditional way of making textiles in Germany and create sustainable, simply good basics. Initially, it was not a business-driven project: both still kept working as freelance designers for other brands. Instead, it was more about doing what they believed in and truly enjoyed doing.
2. Which specific factors do you believe have contributed to the brand's success in catering to such a demanding niche audience?
There were so many unpredictable factors, one example is that at the first trade show Merz b. Schwanen showed their garments to one of the most established and well-known retailers for high-quality products who directly placed an order and who have carried the collection in their portfolio ever since.
Or that Junya Watanabe showed interest in working on a collaboration that has now been ongoing for the last seven years. We believe it was a lot of good luck... we cannot explain what it was.
3. How do you differentiate your clothing items from those offered by other brands in terms of quality, design, and overall appeal?
Our unique characteristic is the originally loopwheeled fabrics, made in Germany. We are proud to mention that we are the only brand producing this way in Germany and even Europe. The fabrics are rare and unique, as the machines are seldom rarities.
We pay great attention to all-natural materials and the highest manufacturing standards in combination with timeless design. We believe that good things don't have to be reinvented again and again. You have to make them really good. And mostly, this is a great challenge. But we constantly question ourselves about what we can still improve. Everything is always in a process.
Further, sustainable as well as recycled, and to round it up, recyclable materials are key to us. We design what we would love to wear and solely use the materials we want to feel on our skin. Furthermore, we have always had great feedback from our customers about how much they appreciate our strong yet easy-to-wear color palette, especially our seasonal colors.
4. Which steps are taken by the brand to understand the ever-changing preferences and demands of your audience and consistently deliver products that meet their expectations?
We get some ideas from our customers in the online shop or in our Flagship Store in Berlin, and others from our agents and retail partners. Furthermore, as we live in Berlin, it is exciting to watch people in the streets, public transportation, cafes, and clubs. So many cool individual styles are simply inspiring. We adopt this inspiration and these new looks into creating and designing new collections. That's really fun!
5. As a Marketing professional I find this to be the most important one: How do you communicate the value and benefits of your basic clothing items to potential customers? Once they become customers, how do you engage with them?
Our most important marketing tool is our satisfied customers, who share their satisfaction and passion for the products with their friends and families. We are grateful that also the press finds interest in our brand and communicates about our values and benefits, such as the TV documentary on ARTE or articles in magazines and newspapers such as the New York Times or The Guardian. This is so amazing! Additionally, we put a significant effort into writing interesting and informative newsletters, Instagram stories, and posts as well as blog posts.
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