The per­fect jumper

Meet the Dutch­man man be­hind Joe Merino

The Weekend Australian - Life - - STYLE - GLY­NIS TRAILL-NASH FASH­ION ED­I­TOR

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

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