LOWA History

New direction

Tecnica acquires LOWA

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.

Light and heavy

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.

  • LOWA History
  • LOWA History


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.”

More LOWA, fewer ski boots

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?

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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.”

Werner Riethmann | LOWA CEO

A new era 100 years of LOWA


LOWA faces major business diffi­culties. Werner Riethmann becomes managing director.

The Lederer family decides to sell its stake.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


„Made in Europe“:

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


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.


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.