• The years of 1992/1993 marked the dawn of a new era at LOWA.

    Josef Lederer sold the company to Tecnica of Italy, and Werner Riethmann became the company’s new managing director and shareholder.


    Sepp Lederer resigned from his managerial position in 1988. His and Berti’s son Stefan then joined Berti on LOWA’s top management team. Stefan developed a new generation of lightweight mountaineering footwear that went on to conquer the market a few years later. Trekking shoes were developed as an outdoor-capable competitor to sneakers.

    By contrast, the winter portion of the seasonal business, ski boots, became increasingly heavy and technical. The new models were not as well received by customers as expected. The weather also put a major damper on the ski-boot business: Mild, relatively snowless winters followed one after another. A record average temperature of 5.74 degrees C was recorded in February 1990 – the highest level measured in Germany since 1881.


    The third Wagner-Lederer generation did not enjoy the same commercial success as its predecessor.

    LOWA ran into financial difficulties as a result of a series of incorrect business decisions and changes in the market.

    Once again, banks had the final say on the company’s fate. It was the time when Werner Riethmann joined LOWA. Riethmann had previously served as managing director of Raichle, a Swiss shoemaker. He knew LOWA and the Lederer family. In 1992, the Board of Advisors at Deutsche Bank appointed him managing director of the company.

  • Stories told about this time of upheaval and resurgence sound, at times, like true adventures.

    Werner Riethmann recalled during a newspaper interview that the company had mountains of unused material stored in barns and garages. He said he only “drew on this stockpile” of material during his entire first year to produce shoes. The sale of LOWA was initiated when his one-year contract expired.

  • The Zanatta family and Tecnica

    Several companies were interested in purchasing the shoe factory. Ultimately, Tecnica of Italy emerged as the buyer.

    The family-run company arose at a similar time and with similar product lines as LOWA. It had gone into business in 1930 as a small Italian cobbler shop and grew from there. Giancarlo Zanatta, the senior member of the family today, had worked as an apprentice in his father’s workshop. His brother and he expanded the operation to create a larger shoe factory that produced mountaineering boots, ski boots and après ski boots. The company achieved its international breakthrough in 1970 with the creation of Moon Boots. These après ski boots, modelled after the heavy footwear worn by the first humans on the moon, are now a classic of industrial design and are displayed in museums like the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

  • The acquisition of a majority stake in LOWA provided Tecnica with an important position in the Alpine shoe market. Another shareholder in LOWA from this time was Werner Riethmann, who returned to the company shortly after the transaction was completed and, more or less, started his second career at LOWA. Collaboration between Tecnica and LOWA got off to an auspicious start. A long-time employee enjoys remembering the companies’ first joint party, the 70th anniversary of LOWA. “It was a great time,” she said. “The local band Jetzendorfer Haus- und Hinterhofmusikanten performed. It was something our Italian business partners really loved. We formed a conga line and danced through the hall – old and young, Jetzendorf residents and Italians – all together. The mood was incredible.”



    Despite it all, LOWA employees and the town of Jetzendorf remained uncertain after the acquisition. What does the future hold? Will LOWA remain in Jetzendorf? Will Tecnica change the product line?

    The new management team at LOWA soon revealed its plans: LOWA would remain a maker of Alpine footwear and LOWA would remain in Jetzendorf. Nonetheless, the LOWA ski-boot segment was transferred to Tecnica in Italy. The job of developing and producing ski boots is an elaborate, costly process. For this reason, it made little sense for the business group to operate two ski-boot operations. LOWA ski boots were produced by Tecnica for more than 10 years. Ski-boot production was finally stopped for good in 2008.

  • But LOWA mountaineering boots took huge strides towards success. The slogan was: LOWA simply more … Restructuring, investments, new buildings and technical enhancements led the company to its next summit: the sale of 1 million pairs of shoes in 2000.

    “The alliance with Italy is much more than just a financial matter. It is something that runs through all levels of the company.”

LOWA celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023. Let’s look back at the many decisive phases and the history of the outdoor shoe specialist.
  • 1923


    Lorenz Wagner sets up his own shoe shop in 1923. He purchases an initial set of equipment and expands the business. More and more employees produce the company’s Bavarian Haferl shoes and mountaineering and ski footwear.

  • 1930


    The company begins to run out of space, and its first small factory building is erected. Josef Lederer, the man who would later become the son-in-law and successor at the company, joins the shoe factory as an apprentice in February of this year.

  • 1933


    The National Socialists come to power. In the same year, Lorenz Wagner becomes the First Mayor of Jetzendorf and employs 17 people in his “Ilmtaler Sportschuhfabrik”.

  • 1936


    The factory grows, and its machines are powered by a 13-horsepower electric motor. Made of leather, the ski boots of the first generation are named after individual mountains.

  • 1937


    The company runs into commercial difficulties, and Lorenz Wagner resigns from his position as mayor for this reason. He is reappointed mayor of Jetzendorf five years later and remains in the position until 1945.

  • 1939


    Following the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the factory produces footwear used by mountain infantry soldiers. The shoe and leather industry throughout Germany was placed under central control in 1934 and quotas were set as part of this change. Shoemakers like Lorenz Wagner (and his brothers) enjoy a special status in National Socialist economic policies, which focused on self-sufficiency and equipment, because they produce the needed work shoes and boots.

  • 1944


    Up to 30 French prisoners of war from the Moosburg main camp work at Lorenz Wagner’s shoe factory during the war. They reside in the postal hall of Jetzendorf. The relationship between the forced workers and their employer is apparently good: Following Germany’s capitulation in 1945, the French say complementary things to the Americans about the Jetzendorf company.

  • 1948


    Operations and the product range are expanded during the postwar years. The shoe factory is given a new name during this period as well: LO(renz) WA(gner).

  • 1952


    LOWA experiences a crisis. The Korean conflict causes the availability and prices of leather to swing sharply, and the company miscalculates. The former apprentice Josef Lederer, who was managing director by this time, and Lorenz’s daughter Berta, the head of sales, rescue the company. Josef and Berta marry on 5 July.

  • 1953


    LOWA KG is established on 13 February 1957. Josef Lederer and his brother-in-law Josef Wagner become personally liable partners. Berti Lederer acts as limited partner. The new marketing strategy: LOWA focuses on collaboration with experienced mountain climbers and provides the equipment used during expeditions to the world’s highest mountains during the following years.

  • 1962


    The “mountaineering and ski boots with a kick” are a hit, and LOWA continues to grow. At this point, the company employs 95 people and generates turnover of about DM 2.5 million.

  • 1970


    Josef Lederer boldly invests in the future of LOWA. After acquiring a vulcanising system in the 1960s, he purchases a polyurethane injection moulding machine for ski boots. In doing so, he becomes an industry pacesetter. LOWA TOTAL is introduced to the market.

  • 1972


    The development team at LOWA then pulls off its next big success. With the help of an inflatable air cushion, the inner-boot of a ski boot can be adjusted to exactly fit the wearer’s foot. The new boot is christened LOWA AIR and remains a top seller for years.

  • 1977


    LOWA expands sales beyond Germany. On 25 October 1977, Fritz Müller of Interlaken signs an agreement that remains in effect today LOWA Switzerland continues to be a subsidiary.

  • 1982


    The year of 1982 marks a mountaineering-boot milestone.

  • 1983


    LOWA employs more than 100 people in Altmühlmünster, Altmannstein, Pirmasens and Jetzendorf. Twenty percent of the company’s shoes are exported.

  • 1988


    The next change of generations at LOWA appears on the horizon. After Josef Wagner leaves HANWAG in 1979, Josef Lederer resigns from his position at LOWA and passes the reins of leadership to his son Stefan Lederer. Stefan Lederer then develops the area of trekking shoes and lightweight hiking boots.

  • 1992


    LOWA faces major business difficulties. Werner Riethmann becomes managing director.The Lederer family decides to sell its stake.

  • 1993


    The Italian company Tecnica acquires LOWA. It is a group whose other brands include Nordica, Rollerblade, Blizzard and Moon Boot. Processes at LOWA are optimised, and the ski-boot business is transferred to Italy. Jetzendorf remains the location for LOWA mountaineering boots and trekking shoes.

  • 1997


    Werner Riethmann and his development team achieve a breakthrough with the RENEGADE model. The shoe becomes a best-seller. The RENEGADE remains a sales hit and classic still today.

  • 2000


    LOWA sells 1 million pairs of shoes for the first time. The company grows and builds new production buildings. The 15-square-metre shop in which Lorenz Wagner got his start evolves into a modern plant with 7,000 square metres of space.

  • 2003


    LOWA and Schöffel Sportbekleidung GmbH open the first Schöffel-LOWA store in Frankfurt. The joint venture exploits synergies, and the products made by the two companies perfectly complement one another. More than 36 other stores are opened in Germany, Austria and Italy over the years.

  • 2010


    LOWA reaches its next milestone. Two million pairs of shoes! LOWA markets its products in many countries around the world – in addition to Europe, in the United States, China and Australia.

  • 2015


    “Made in Europe”: LOWA produces its shoes across Europe with production partners in Slovakia, Bosnia, Italy and Croatia.

  • 2019


    Alexander Nicolai becomes managing director and leads LOWA along with Werner Riethmann. In this same year, LOWA acquires its long-time production partner Riko Sport. The development location in Italy becomes known as LOWA R&D and the production operation in Slovakia as LOWA Production. More than 2,000 people now work at LOWA.

  • 2023

    LOWA celebrates its 100th birthday in 2023 – and produces over 3 million pairs of shoes. The brand is one of the most important producers of high-quality outdoor shoes worldwide and exports its products to 80 countries.