Chef Carmy’s Merz b. Schwanen T-shirt Brand Opens a New York City Store

LONDON Before Jeremy Allen White took the internet by storm in his Calvin Klein briefs, it was another item of clothing that had the internet talking: his white Merz b. Schwanen T-shirt worn by his character Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto in the show “The Bear.”

The German brand that dates all the way back to 1911 has now opened shop in New York City on Canal Street.

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The husband-and-wife duo behind the brand Gitta and Peter Plotnicki discovered the location while visiting the city 28 years ago.

“Peter always dreamed of doing business one day in New York because he loves the city so much and at that time, I was doing my MA in design, where my assignment was to come up with a concept store and I took photos of available stores on Canal Street and pretended this would be the store,” said Gitta Plotnicki in an interview on Zoom with Peter beside her.

Jeremy Allen White in "The Bear."
Jeremy Allen White in “The Bear” wearing Merz b. Schwanen.

The store matches the Merz b. Schwanen aesthetic of clean, minimal design and solid colors, with the Merz b. Schwanen sign on the wall with the text and swan logo hand-painted with gold.

There are green plants scattered throughout with pieces of vintage furniture from Germany and Denmark that date back to the ‘20s as an ode to the brand’s origin.

The T-shirt the brand is famed for is made on a special loopwheeled machine from the 20th century.

“We want to take our customers on a journey through time. Our oldest loopwheeler is from 1890 and the youngest is from 1960 — we’re so proud of these old machines that still work and produce products in this traditional way,” said Gitta.

“It’s this approach of timelessness. Our garments are mainly timeless classics and we adjust them to the present,” she added.

Gitta and Peter Plotnicki Merz b. Schwanen
Gitta and Peter Plotnicki

This is the brand’s first international store, in Merz b. Schwanen’s strongest market. The line is stocked at more than 100 stores worldwide via wholesalers, including in Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Ukraine and U.K.

Opening a U.S. store will allow the brand to get to know customer there, and tell the full brand story — though it is known best for making white T-shirts that weigh only 8.6 ounces without any side seams.

The brand’s offerings now include knitwear, sneakers, dresses, pants and socks featuring a small swan logo.

“One of the main reasons why we wanted to open a store in New York is because we have so many customers online, but our product is really about feeling the fabrics. We pay so much attention to the fabric, quality and how it’s treated,” said Gitta Plotnicki.

Chef Carmy in “The Bear.”
Chef Carmy in “The Bear.”

The couple have been planning the New York City store since July last year. Peter moved to the city with their son, Lennard, who is the retail and commercial manager of the brand, to deal with all the administrative paperwork.

“Before we finished the store in New York, we already had dreams of where the next store could be, but after this, we’re a little bit exhausted,” said Peter Plotnicki half-jokingly, adding there may be another store coming.

On opening night Wednesday, customers were already knocking on the door to come into the shop.

The brand celebrated the opening by hosting a panel talk with James Harris and Lawrence Schlossman, hosts of the podcast Throwing Fits, where almost 500 people attended.

“The Bear” may have put Merz b. Schwanen on the mainstream map, but long before that the brand was already being featured on the big screen in films such as “Wonder Wheel,” starring Justin Timberlake and Kate Winslet; in “Aquaman,” where Jason Momoa wore a charcoal Henley and in “The Last Vermeer.”

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