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Merz B. Schwanen 1950s Organic Crew Neck T-Shirt Review

This review is a piece of our  Great White T-Shirt Review series, in which we tested nearly two dozen plain white t-shirts to help you understand what’s on the market today. In it, we tested for qualities like fit, construction quality, fabric density, shrinkage, and see-through-ness, amongst many others.


I wanted to love this shirt. I really did. $58 may seem steep, but for a loopwheeled tee that’s made in Germany from organic cotton, it is a total steal (it even comes in this fancy fiberboard box!).

It’s a total steal, if it fits.

By The Numbers

  • Fabric: 100% cotton
  • Made in: Germany
  • Postwash Fabric Density: 1.30g/LI (midweight)
  • Postwash Total Weight: 131g
  • Construction: Tubeknit loopwheeled
  • Postwash Measurements (inches):
    • Front Length: 22.5
    • Pit to Pit: 20
    • Shoulder to Shoulder: 15.5
    • Hem Width: 20
    • Neck Width: 7.5
    • Sleeve Length: 7
    • Sleeve Height: 8
  • Sizing Recommendation: Size UP!
  • Shrinkage: 5.63%
  • Weight Loss: 4.68%
  • Price Per Shirt: $58
  • Available for $58 at Unionmade

Fit

If I stand perfectly still and take shallow breaths, I could stare at myself in this shirt for hours. One errant movement, however and the illusion is shattered. This shirt is a size 6, which is supposedly a large, but fits more like an extra medium.

The-Great-White-T-Shirt-Review-merz-b-front-back

It is the smallest shirt I tried on. The TLI (Total Linear Inch, sum of all measurements) sits just north of 100 and that includes the extra wide neck. I have a size 6 Merz henley I bought on final sale from Need Supply a couple years ago, so I knew this shirt would be too small when we made the order, but I felt journalistic integrity required ordering the same tag size from each maker.

Someday, someday I’ll find that mythical 7, or whatever my actual size is in Merz B’s metric system. If you’re considering this shirt, SIZE UP!

The sleeves fit extra tight due to this triangular gusset in the armpit. The whole thing will also shrink about 5% on the first wash, so again, SIZE UP!

Fabric

But almost all of my complaints about the fit can be rectified by the fabric, almost. Merz B uses these barrel knitting machines from the 1920s called loopwheelers, that only knit with the same tension as gravity. The result is an incredibly soft and slightly irregular knit that wears very well.

I was hesitant to include anything loopwheeled in this review because tees are usually around the $100 mark and it’s an incredibly nerdy fabric thing that most people rightly don’t care about. But this shirt is only $58, which is still pricy for a t-shirt, but a bargain for loopwheeling. And this ain’t no cheap loopwheeling either. If you want to feel like those cartoon bears in the toilet paper commercials, look no further.

Sheerness/see-through was fine.

Construction and Details

As mentioned, this tee is loopwheeled and doesn’t have any side seams. The stitching is clean, not as clean as some of the other options but enough. There were a couple raw edges that made it past the overlock on the sleeves but nothing egregious.

There aren’t many details aside from the woven label (a feature Knickerbocker probably noticed before I did).

Verdict

The Merz B 50s crewneck is an impressive tee with a phenomenal loopwheeled fabric for the price, but it’s sized so small I can’t wear it. Perhaps they were just going true period with the look of garments from Weimar Germany, but y’know, people are better fed these days.

Consider if:

  • The concept of low-tension knitting excites you
  • You know how to size yourself in metric
  • You make t-shirt unboxing videos on YouTube but have never found a t-shirt that actually comes in a box

Avoid if:

  • You don’t have the ability to try on in person
  • A t-shirt that comes in a special box with a drawing of a swan on it is too precious for you

Available for $58 at Unionmade


As mentioned, this was just one of many other reviews of plain white tees. Have a look at the full comprehensive review including all the other t-shirts.