• The postwar years were shaped by good and bad fortune. The company had ran into economic problems, and Lorenz Wagner, the head of the company and its founder, had died.

    The next generation had to reinvent itself: They succeeded. The company was saved and went on to become an internationally known and successful brand.

  • A new name and new shoes

    Lorenz Wagner had to reorganise the shoe factory after the end of World War II. The buildings and machinery were still in place. But boots for mountain infantry soldiers were no longer needed, and the French prisoners of war who made up most of LOWA’s workforce had returned home.

    Even though demand for shoes was heavy during the postwar years – the competition was, too. The Wagner brothers in Weichs and Vierkirchen were vying against other shoe factories in and around Munich to establish their place in the marketplace.

  • The “Ilmtaler Sportschuhfabrik” had to reinvent itself, hire workers and attract new customers. Lorenz Wagner created the LOWA brand using the first two letters of his two names. The first collections sold during the postwar years had a very wide range. LOWA produced more and more Bavarian Haferl shoes, mountaineering boots and ski boots as well as sandals, lightweight low-cut shoes, après ski boots and fur slippers.


    Material and money were in short supply at the beginning of the 1950s. The Korean crisis intensified this situation. Leather, the essential material of LOWA’s business, was in short supply, and prices for it were extremely high. Lorenz Wagner bought huge amounts of leather.

    Sepp Lederer talked about the reasons for Wagner’s buying decisions in an interview he gave later: “A few cunning businesspeople took advantage of the situation and said: buy, buy! – the price is just going to go up! Six months later, the Korean crisis had passed and leather prices plummeted. This was 1950/51. One day, we could not get any more money from the bank to pay our wages.” 

  • A plan to save the shoe factory was needed. Fortunately, Lorenz Wagner had exactly the right man and the right woman already at the company.

    His daughter Berta (Berti) Wagner was commercial director of LOWA at this point. Sepp Lederer, who had recently been released from POW camp, was working as a shop manager in the shoe factory. Sepp Lederer had actually been planning to stay “just one year”.

  • But he could not abandon the company during this financial crisis.

    He and his future wife assumed responsibility for the company. The creditors urged LOWA to reach a settlement, but Sepp and Berti succeeded in negotiating a moratorium with them – that is a delay in payments.

    It was a highly stressful time. Berti Lederer later said that the company faced bankruptcy every month and it had to be prevented over and over again. But the two managed to overcome the challenges – and the events drew Berti and Sepp closer together. They married on 5 July 1952. Lorenz Wagner experienced these dramatic events during the last year of his life. He died in 1953 at the age of 60. But LOWA was not out of the woods yet.

  • Berti Lederer recalled the events decades later:

    “I was about to give birth when my father died in April 1953. Sepp and I walked behind the coffin on the way to the cemetery. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy we received in Jetzendorf. Sepp spontaneously pressed my arm and said as he looked over the entire workforce that was attending the funeral: We simply cannot close the company. That would be the last thing that Lorenz would have wanted. We’ll keep going!”


    By the mid-1950s, the crisis had passed. The son of the company’s founder, Josef Wagner, also joined LOWA. He oversaw production operations and joined Sepp Lederer in running the company. Berti Lederer continued to oversee sales. In 1957, the second generation of the family-run company set up a limited partnership, LOWA KG. Sepp Lederer and Josef Wagner became personally liable partners. Berti Lederer acted as limited partner. LOWA discontinued its production of street and Haferl shoes and focused on making high-quality mountaineering and ski footwear. The first marketing campaigns were conducted. Brochures were printed and trade fairs visited. At the time, LOWA made a name for itself by outfitting many high-mountain expeditions. International mountain climbers visited the shoemaker in the Bavarian town of Jetzendorf to seek out the company’s advice and order bespoke footwear. The golden age of “mountaineering and ski boots with a kick” began.



    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.

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.