The perfect jumper
Meet the Dutchman man behind Joe Merino
FOR Australians, the word merino often conjures up a sense of pride and place, images of sheep stations and men in Akubras, others wrangling woolly beasts in blue singlets inside corrugated iron shearing sheds.
So to spot the name Joe Merino on the sign of a shop in central Amsterdam was enough to pique my interest and an inherent investigative streak, even while on holiday.
Walking into the large, airy store, it soon became apparent that whoever was behind it had a knack for simplicity — and marketing savvy. There wasn’t much on show in terms of items — just men’s jumpers — but a great deal on offer in the colour spectrum.
At the back of this store-office-hangout sat Ron Beckers, an affable Dutch chap and straight talker with an easy laugh, the driving force behind this men’s knitwear label, which started three years ago with a single classic V-neck jumper.
“We started only online with six colours and three sizes selling to friends in a bar,” says Beckers, reminiscing about the company’s humble beginnings. Friends soon offered cheap office space, and then their current space came up, which then doubled and in the northern summer doubled in size again. “We opened the door and started selling pullovers. It was so easy.”
That original style now comes in 50 colours — hence the veritable rainbow visible along the main wall of the store.
Once he built up trust with his growing band of customers (business has tripled this year alone), Beckers started adding a few more styles to the Joe Merino range: a cardigan, crew-neck jumper, hoodie, zip-front jumper and socks — although these don’t have the same range of colours. There is a token women’s jumper, but it’s just that — apparently their female customers just wear the men’s ones anyway. The distinguishing feature of every jumper is also suitably subtle — a tiny orange band around the right wrist.
Beckers spent a lot of effort creating what he believes