In 1923, a Bavarian cobbler named Lorenz Wagner founded LOWA (LO-renz WA-gner = LOWA) as an outdoor and work boot manufacturer. Nine decades later, LOWA is still based in its small home village of Jetzendorf, Germany but has become a worldwide brand, selling footwear in over 40 countries. Despite its international reach and the trend of footwear companies to move production offshore to Asia, 100% of LOWA’s boots and shoes are handcrafted in Europe, under the world’s most stringent manufacturing, labor and environmental regulations. Keeping production in Europe can be costly but it also allows LOWA to maintain its high standards for quality and keeps the corporate culture and institutional knowledge intact – in fact, some employees at LOWA have worked there for 50 years. With the community and its workers in mind, over the past decade LOWA has invested almost a million Euros in machinery to clean the air and water that leaves the factory. The stream that runs along the factory’s property, whose water the cows in the next field drink, stays clean and the crops that grow across the street stay safe to harvest, and most important, the residents of Jetzendorf stay healthy.
LOWA’s constant factor – call it the brand’s “DNA,” is that they remain Bavarian cobblers at heart, with a stubborn insistence on handcrafting high quality, authentic outdoor boots and shoes. And part of this DNA is LOWA’s commitment to manufacturing its entire footwear line with PU (polyurethane) rather than EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) midsoles. PU is more expensive to produce but it’s an excellent shock absorber, rebounds well, offers better overall comfort than EVA – and it outlasts EVA midsoles by at least twice and up to five times as long. Boots and shoes made with PU last longer, which means that fewer end up in landfills, and since PU also has very little manufacturing waste, it is a much cleaner product to work with. On the other hand, EVA (which is commonly found in most Asian-made sneakers, running shoes and hiking boots) while offering light weight, packs out very quickly, thus shortening the life of the shoes, and is so toxic to produce that its manufacturing is actually banned in the European Union.
For some of these reasons and more, in 2009 LOWA became the only outdoor footwear manufacturer to be granted ISO 9001 status for the highest quality construction and process standards.
To learn more about LOWA boots and to see videos from their factory, visit www.lowaboots.com
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