Johannes Steiner is one of the handful of loden fabric manufacturers that are left in the Alpine region. While he already successfully supplies his fabric to well-known fashion houses, he would like to cater to a young audience with new creations to diminish the association that loden fabric is something for older generations. When most people hear the word loden fabric, the image of a voluminously cut coat in a hunter’s green comes to mind which a lot of city dwellers don’t necessarily want or need hanging in their closets. As a way to reach a more broad spectrum of buyers, Steiner joined forces with an acclaimed fashion designer and together they designed jackets and coats that are more fashionable in cut as well as in color and stray far from the traditional loden coats.
Near the resort town of Schladming, he and his cousin Herbert run one of the last loden fabric factories in the Alpine region. The factory itself is a journey back in time to the industrial era of Europe, with machines of Italian, German and Swiss manufacturers being used that are no longer in existence. Huge bales of wool are stacked in the attic of Steiner’s production hall. 80% of the wool comes from Australia. The wool is dyed, spun and woven on site.
The two cousins are part of the fifth generation, and the company has been in existence for over 130 years. Steiner estimates that there are still two other loden producers in Austria, and one each in southern Germany and South Tirol. Steiner sells about half of the fabric produced to well-known fashion houses such as Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Hugo Boss and Jil Sander. The other half of the fabric is processed into jackets and coats or is sold as blankets and upholstery fabrics.