History of the Lodenwalke

Just below the grandiose Dachstein Massif is the picturesque high Alpine plateau of Ramsau, home of the famous Schladming Loden. Our earliest records date from 1434.

This year the Bishop of Admont sent out a tax demand asking for settlement. Records say “… Stubich and Eberl pay the provost 3 elles of the excellent Enns, a valley cloth produced in Rössing…”

Although the ownership has changed over time, the business has always remained in the hands of local people. Following flooding in 1608, the buildings were moved from the opposite side of the river to their current location. Our Lodenwalke is, to this day, the oldest business in the province.

The Lodenwalke remained unaltered right up to the middle of the eighteen hundreds, when the first carding machines were purchased. These were brought 150 kilometres by cart from Leoben, no easy task in those days. Later, in 1860, Johann Walcher purchased the first spinning machines. Some time later his son Zacharias imported knitting machines from Germany and developed the thick walked (filled) wool socks that have become one of our most sought after products.

The title page shows the old workshop which we are working to preserve for future generations. Following another flood in 1938, we built our first new works on higher ground allowing us to introduce numerous improvements to our production processes.

Our machines are now powered by economical electricity produced by our own two small hydroelectric plants.

In addition to our hardwearing Loden, we are also renowned for our extensive range of high quality suits and overcoats made from fine merino wool.

 

 

Records, contracts of purchase and tax payments can be traced as far back as 1434. Although the ownership has changed over the years, the business has always remained in the hands of local people.

Around 1825 the  familiy “Steiner” arrived at the Lodenwalke. The siblings, Susanne and Zacharias Walcher, worked together to run the Lodenwalke, in Ramsau.

Zacharias daughter Susanne met and married Johann Steiner, a famous mountaineer and mountain guide. They inherited the business upon Zacharias death. Susanne and Johann founded the present family.
Georg Steiner, upholding the long family tradition, owned the Lodenwalke until 2006 and since last year his oldest son, Jörg Steiner, has owned and ran the family tradition.
Other members of the family have an associated company a few kilometres away in Mandling.

Loden (fulled cloth) is a fabric that was developed by local farmers many years ago. The hardy mountain sheep of the region provide the raw material which, in turn, provides the outstanding quality to Schladming fabrics and wool products. (Schladming is the main town in our area)

The wool was originally carded with a couple of nails driven through a bit of wood. Then the women of the farm would spin the wool into yarn throughout the long winter evenings. Skilled weavers would take their looms from farm to farm and weave the yarn into a coarse cloth. This rough cloth would then be taken to the Lodenwalker (Cloth fuller). 100 square meters of cloth is compacted by into just 42 square meters of the famous Schladming “Perlloden” (pearl cloth). As a result this fabric is both exceptionally tough and durable.

Despite technical progress, the basic process has remained the same for 500 years. The beautiful dappled grey “Perlloden” can not be crafted by modern mass production methods. It is, of course, the traditional wear of our region but its exceptional qualities are now prised by people all over the world.

The craftsmen and women who have been working with us from the same families, for just as long, help to maintain the tradition of the Lodenwalke.

The gentle old treatment of the wool is obviously noticeable and the phrase “wool needs time” is much more than a slogan for our famous fabrics.

 

Even though the buildings and machines have been adapted for the present day, the spirit of the business has remained the same. At 1,000 metres above sea level things have their own pace. We still, not only value but rely upon the cooperation with our local community. There are business and family connections which stretch back for generations. Many of our craftsmen and women have been working with us from the same families for just as long.

The old folk used to say “wool needs time”. That is exactly how we work. There are no short cuts to quality. Many visitors have found their way to this quiet corner of the world and discovered a place where they can take their time in choosing fine country clothes that they are proud to wear at any time, any place, anywhere in the world. To them and to the many people who we hope will come to see us for the first time we wish,

“G’sund tragen!”    (it means: “feel well in our clothes!”)