LOWA Sportschuhe GmbH makes boots and shoes for the hiking, outdoor and travel industries. The headquarters of the medium-sized company is in the Bavarian town of Jetzendorf near Munich. What began in 1923 with a small production of handmade Bavarian Haferl shoes has developed over the years into a company with a global reputation, whose products are now sold in more than 70 countries.The traditional boot and shoe maker, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023, stands for quality and fit and is one of the leading brands in the field of mountain and outdoor shoes in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The company has been majority-owned by the Italian Tecnica group of companies since 1993. The LOWA shoes are produced in Europe.
Quality for nearly 100 years
The first two letters of the first and last name of the company’s founder, Lorenz Wagner (1893–1953), form the name of the company, LOWA. The company started off making traditional Bavarian Haferl shoes. The high-quality and hence popularity of the double-stitched shoes made entirely by hand required this fledgling company to expand for the first time at the end of the 1920s. LOWA remained on its expansion course at the beginning of the 1930s when it erected its first manufacturing building, where hiking boots for the mountain infantry and lace-up ski boots were made. After World War II, the second generation took over: Wagner’s daughter Berti and her husband, Josef (“Sepp”) Lederer, continued to expand the product range, taking the company in the same direction as its founder, step by step.
Once production levels began to “burst at the seams”, two new production facilities were opened in 1977. In 1988, Josef Lederer handed over the management of the company to his son Stefan Lederer who ran the business until 1991. In 1992, Werner Riethmann took over. One year later, the Bavarian traditional boot and shoe maker was acquired by the Italian Tecnica Group. Processes were simplified, and some production was relocated. The production of ski boots was discontinued as part of this transition as well. However, the Jetzendorf site was kept, modernised and expanded.
At that point, 350,000 pairs of hiking and trekking shoes a year were produced there. All major organisational units such as management, marketing, development, logistics and sales are also located in the LOWA headquarters. In 2019, Alexander Nicolai joined the management team and has led the company with Werner Riethmann since then.
For years now, LOWA’s philosophy has been high-quality materials, fair and environmentally conscious production and the support of social projects. The company’s manufactures products that are 100 percent “Made in Europe”. In a reflection of this commitment to the continent, the company acquired its long-time production partners in Italy and Slovakia in July 2019. Today, more than 90 percent of LOWA’s footwear is produced in its own factories.
It has operations located at the company’s headquarters in Jetzendorf, Germany, as well as in the towns of Montebelluna, Italy, and Bošany, Slovakia. A production facility called LOWA R&D that manufactures samples is also located in Italy. The company’s uppers are also produced in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its climbing boots are made in the Czech Republic.
Product development milestones
LOWA achieved its first real highlight in 1972 when it developed the LOWA “Air System” to ensure a perfect fit for ski boots. 1982 saw the launch of the TREKKER model. The popularity of this extremely successful model is still unrivalled today. More innovative products were developed such as the multi-tec sole (featuring two different rubber compounds) in 1990 and the LOWA “Climate Control System” in 1991. A particularly decisive milestone was the development of the new line of multifunctional footwear and the launch of the RENEGADE model. This model is now considered to be “the classic” multifunctional shoe and is one of the most widely sold outdoor boots anywhere in the world. The boot, which is made in Europe, is constantly enhanced and marketed in a range of different versions.
In addition to classic mountaineering boots, LOWA continues to expand its segment and uses innovations to make its mark in the widest range of categories. LOWA’s product range also includes a children’s collection and sport and leisure-time shoes. The hiking boot specialist also continues to set the standard when it comes to mountaineering boots. To ensure that all shoes
function exactly as they should, LOWA works closely with leading mountaineers all around the world. These experts continuously test the company’s products and provide important feedback to the LOWA developers.