The name Lowa stands for high quality, authentic outdoor shoes made in Europe. It is not without reason that this German shoe brand is an established name among outdoor fans. Nonetheless, there are still only very few of us who have had the chance to see first-hand how a Lowa shoe is made, what production steps it goes through and what actually makes up such a great shoe. It is for this reason that Keller Sports Pro Thomas very gladly accepted an invitation to visit a Lowa factory at the company headquarters, in Jetzendorf. Here is what he told us about his visit to the Lowa factory:
At the headquarters in Jetzendorf there is a considerably large amount of production taking place, and the central European warehouse is also there. There are other factories in Italy and Slovakia too. Lowa places a great value on the "Made in Germany" seal given to shoes made in the headquarters in Jetzendorf, as well as the "Made in Europe" seal that applies to all its other shoes - it proves that the final product meets the highest quality standards. There is one thing that really stands out: cleanliness is one of Lowa's priorities when it comes to high-quality production.
My tour started in the materials warehouse. Here you can find everything needed to make a shoe - from the eyelets for the lacing to several different kinds of leather in all kinds of colours. The leather is the most impressive part: the fine smell, the careful selection... One thing is very clear: Lowa shoes are the best quality products you can find. I carried on to the first production room, where the first pieces of leather are joined together and the shafts are prepared for attachment to the shoe. There is one thing that really did surprise me though - a Lowa shoe involves an incredible amount of manual work. Of course, a lot is supported by machinery, but even the machines require a fine touch and lots of handling experience, only like that can every shoe have a perfect fit and incomparable design. A particularly impressive production step is the preparation of the shaft, as it is done without any support from machines and is decisive for the fit of the shoe. It involves a little cord having a specific tension along the shaft and, although this step might seem insignificant, it is very important and requires a fine touch, a calm mind and a lot of experience.
In the next room, production continues - this time it is the preparation of the insole and further processing of the shaft. This step also heavily depends on manual work as things are painted, whetted, glued and sewn. An important and very exciting moment is when the insole is joined to the shaft. In Jetzendorf, this is done with adhesive stitching, a costly, high-quality process that doesn't make a shoe particularly light but greatly improves robustness and durability. Experience and an excellent feel for the job are essential. If a shoe is placed into the machine wrong, even by just a few milimetres, there is no way of saving it.
After this step, the now recognisable shoe gets an outsole glued on with the utmost of care, as glue residue should not be seen on the outside of the shoe. The shaft also goes through its final processing stages here too. Last but not least, laces and hang tags are added to the shoes, which, after final quality checks, make their way to the box. The box goes to the central warehouse and is then shipped to all retailers, where all clients can then finally buy the shoes.
The tour was very impressive all in all. It became clear to me that a lot of manual work goes into Lowa shoes, and these are of extremely high quality. Once you've seen the production process first hand you start looking at your shoes differently and begin to think that you should treat them with more respect in future and take more care of them. I must absolutely take my hat off at all the workers for their precise and quality work. In Jetzendorf I confirmed the first impressions I already had of the brand, and made them even better. Lowa remains to this day a traditional German company that focuses on high quality work and resulting high quality products.