Winterproof: Schladming Loden
Loden, a fabric that has been the high performance product of the Alpine population for centuries, is synonymous with the national identity. Nothing protects so naturally against cold, rain, and wind. The “Schladminger Rock," a robust men’s jacket, is particularly famous.
What is Loden?
Perl-Loden, a flecked, light grey cloth, was the region’s suitably robust solution to the hard challenges of mountain life, and the extreme weather conditions in which they lived.
This form of Loden cloth was originally used for trousers. The Steiner brothers wore these tear-resistant garments in 1909 to protect them from knife-sharp rock edges on their perilous first ascent of the south face of the Dachstein mountain, an almost 1000 m (3280 ft) high vertical cliff. The fabric for this great adventure, which was later supplied for expeditions to the highest peaks in the world, was manufactured by the Steiner family’s own Loden mill.
The History of Schladming Loden
This traditional woollen mill has been owned by the Steiner family since 1888, and production continues to this day. This is not just out of nostalgia, but because only the original wooden beaters, with their heavy hammers, are capable of “fulling” the wool. "Fulling" is a process which, together with warm water and soap, thickens the strands to produce windproof Perl-Loden fabric. Between 400 and 1,000 grams of pure new wool are required to produce a yard of cloth. After hammering and rubbing, the fibers thicken and shorten to two thirds of their original length.
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The "Schladminger Rock"
A genuine Schladminger Rock, with buckhorn buttons, and the characteristic green lapels and piping, is a hefty garment; it can weigh up to 3 kg (6.6 lbs). The wool traditionally comes from mountain sheep which graze on Dachstein Mountain. This raw material is naturally water repellent, breathable, and insulating. It is even so fire-resistant that it is also used to make protective clothing for the fire service.
The Steiner company uses their wool expertise to find some very different outlets for their product. In addition to sturdy, functional clothing, they also design and manufacture soft, smooth Loden cloth, which is in great demand from international fashion houses such as Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana, as well as sports labels such as Nike and Adidas. Colourful and cozy blankets and throws from their home-ware collection are perfect to snuggle up in, and are offered in a choice of luxury wools: cashmere, merino, alpaca and angora. These high quality blankets will give life-long pleasure and 100 % natural, woollen warmth.
As well as traditional Schladming clothing, there are contemporary collections by Schneider, clothing manufacturer to the Habsburgs, Gössl or Loden Frey, made with Loden cloth manufactured by Steiner 1888.