History of Lodenwalker
Just below the grandiose Dachstein Masif ist he lovely high Alpine plateau of Ramsau. In a steep gorge leading from it, in the hamlet of Rössing, stands a group of ancient buildings. Their timbers are blackened with age. You can always hear the sound of the clear Alpine river as it rushes on down to the valley far below.
This is the home of the famous Schladming “Loden”…
“Loden” is a cloth that has been made here for over 500 years. The fine country cloths and clothes we make today are the produkt of skills and craftmanship which have been handed down from generation to generation for over five centuries. The first records date from 1434. In that year the Bishop of Admont sent out a tax demand asking for settlement in “3 elles of the excellent Enns valley cloth produced in Rössing”.
Although the ownership has changed from time to time, the business has always been in the hands of local people. After flooding in 1608 the buildings were actually moved from the other side of the river to their present location but not withstanding that our Lodenwalke is the oldest business in the province.
Loden is a fabric wich was developed by local farmers way back in the mists of time. The hardy mountain sheep of the region provide the raw material which gives 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 nail driven through a bit of wood.
Then the woman of the farm would spin the wool into yarn during the long winter evenings. Skilled weavers used to take their looms from farm to farm and weave the yarn into a coarse cloth. Then the farmers would take this rough cloth to the Lodenwalker. There it was put in a bath of warm water and hammered by mallets. The process was powered by a water mill. “Walken” causes the wool fibres to combine and compact to produce the wonderful wind and water resistant “Loden”.
What starts out as 100 square meters of cloth is compacted by this process to give just 42 square meters of the famous Schladming “Perlloden”. The resulting fabric thus has exceptional qualities of toughness and durability.
Despite technical progress the basic process has remained the same for 500 years. The beautiful dappled gey “Perlloden” can not be crafted by the modern mass production methods. It is, of course, the traditional wear of our region but its exceptional qualities are now prized by wearers all over the world.
The “Lodenwalke” remained unaltered right up to middle of the eighteen hundreds. Then the first carding machines were purchased. They had to be carted 150 kilometres from Leoben, no easy task on those days. Later, in 1860, Johann Walcher brought in the first spinning machines. Some time after that his son Zacharias imported knitting machines from Germany and developed the thick “Walked” wool socks which have become one of our most sought after products.
Zacharia´s daughter Susanne met and married Johann Steiner, a famous mountaineer and mountain guide. They inherited the business on Zacharias´s death. Susanne and Johann founded the present family. Georg Steiner, upholding the long family tradition, now owns and runs the “Lodenwalke” Other members of the family have an associated company a few kilometres away in Mandling. Since 2006 his oldest son Jörg Steiner tries to follow the footsteps of his father´s.
There was another flood in 1938 so we built the fisrt new works on higher ground and made many improvements to our production processes. Our machines are now powered by economical hydro-electricity from our two small plants.
In addition to our hard-wearing “Lodens” we are now known for a range of high quality suits, costumes and overcoats made from fine merino wool from Australia.
Even though the buildings and machines have been adapted for the present day, the spirit of the business has stayed the same. At 1000 meters above sea level things have their own pace. We still value the cooperation with the local community. There are business and family connections which go back for generations. Many of our craftsmen and women have been coming to work with us from the same families for just as long.
The old folk used to say “Wool needs time” . That is 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,
(It means, “Feel well in our clothes!”)