We are incredibly excited to announce that 2023 marks the one hundredth anniversary of LOWA. Over the past 100 years LOWA has grown from a tiny shoemaker’s shop into a renowned provider of quality footwear across the world. Join us in celebrating 100 years of LOWA boots history with a brief timeline of the events that brought them to the pinnacle of the outdoor shoes business.
The Beginning of it All: Lorenz Wagner
LOWA boots history begins with the man who started it all. Lorenz Wagner inherited his parents’ small shoemaker shop in 1922 and began to work on overhauling the shop into a real company. Using money he earned playing as a musician, Wagner purchased the machinery he needed and began growing his dream. By 1925 he had employed his first two employees, and in 1930 he had a total of seven people working for him in his tiny shop. During the Second World War, Wagner’s company made boots for German mountain infantry divisions. Several French prisoners of war came to work under Wagner, enjoying decent conditions there according to their recounting of events following Allied victory in 1945. Wagner oversaw large-scale expansion in the postwar years, and the factory finally received the name we’re known by today. Named after our founder, LOrenz WAgner, we became LOWA.
Crisis and Recovery: The Second Generation
The postwar period wasn’t all roses though. In this more gloomy era of LOWA boots history, Lorenz Wagner passed away at the age of 60 while LOWA was in serious financial trouble. The Korean conflict caused a serious shift in the price and availability of leather for sale, and Wagner had been manipulated into buying huge qualities for extremely high prices. But LOWA already had the people it needed to bring the company back from the brink. Introducing the next two heroes in LOWA boots history: Sepp Lederer, one-time apprentice at Wagner’s company, and his future wife and Wagner’s daughter Berti Wagner. These two faced financial challenges time and time again, but eventually managed to bring it all back with a renewed focus on mountaineering and ski footwear. LOWA became one of the foremost providers of footwear for mountaineering expeditions. The time of ‘mountaineering and ski-boots with a kick’ had just begun, sparking a new peak in the LOWA boots history.
An Alliance with Italy: Tecnica’s Acquisition
1992 and 1993 represent years of profound change for LOWA. Werner Reithmann took the reins as managerial director after being appointed by the Board of Directors following further financial issues. Reithmann ran the ship for a year before Lederer sold off his shares in the company and LOWA was acquired by Tecnica. Although collaboration between LOWA and Tecnica got off to a strong start, there was uncertainty at LOWA. What was going to happen to their company? What would they be manufacturing? Would they be moved to Italy or remain in Jetzendorf? As it turned out, very little changed and LOWA boots continued to be made as usual, with the exception of ski-boots, which were transferred to Tecnica’s ski-boot operation in Italy before being ceased completely in 2008. As a result, LOWA was able to focus even more on delivering excellent mountain boot products such as the Renegade line, a classic name in LOWA boots history which is still continued to this day.
Turning of the Millenium: LOWA in the 21st Century
The 2000s kicked off with a bang. For the first time, a whopping one million pairs of shoes had been sold in 2000, one of the most significant events in LOWA boots history. This period also represents a time of growth for LOWA; by this point the small shop that Lorenz Wagner had worked in had expanded to a modernised 7,000 square metre plant. Talk about an upgrade. LOWA boots could be manufactured here at a significantly faster rate. Beyond just manufacturing though, LOWA and Schöffel Sportbekleidung joined together from 2003 onwards to open nearly 40 Schöffel-LOWA stores across Germany, Italy and Austria. LOWA boots continue showing their popularity over the years as a record two million pairs were sold in 2010.
Now, and the Future
Now in 2023 LOWA has become a world-renowned provider of quality specialist footwear delivering to 80 countries! It’s been amazing to reflect on how LOWA started as a tiny shoe-shop to become an acclaimed international company, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.