My recent trip to South Tyrol wasn’t all about hiking. I got to visit a few nearby towns too. One day while driving Brixen I suddenly saw an intriguing sign Lodenwelt (Loden world)
I knew had to stop on the way back!
What is a Loden coat?
The Loden coat is one of the most classic pieces of clothing from South Tyrol. Over time it has undergone numerous metamorphoses to become, in some cases, more sophisticated and expensive.
The fabric [called Loden, a subclass of the wools known as "Melton" according to Wikipedia] is made from sheep’s wool, cut before being washed, then spun and foot pressed while soaked in water. Thanks to this treatment the fabric, once dried, does not shrink and becomes compact and waterproof.
The Loden is rough, water resistant and robust to the touch. The special processing technique Loden remained unchanged until today. [The classic Loden coat is dark green with
About 5000 Loden coats are packaged by hand every year at Niedervintl manufacturing plant.
[Text loosely translated from ::source::]
If you are interested to read more about Lodens, have a look at this NY Times article Published on October 11, 1981 WORLD SHOPPER; IN THE LAND OF LONDON, EUROPEAN PREPPY
Inside Oberrauch-Zitt: a seamstress dream
When I walked inside Oberrauch-Zitt store (one of the two most renowned Italian Loden brands), I welcomed by fabulous woollen garments and fantastic dirndl. But my luck went much further…
Inside the store behind a wool-covered vintage car there was a small but full-fledged sewing workshop. For a moment I didn’t know whether I should enter or not…these people were working, what would I say?
Well, I mumbled something like: I have a sewing blog…can I take pictures? Maybe next time I should say I love sewing can you show me how you work? I doubt the word ‘blog’ is in everybody’s daily vocabulary!
Anyway, the gentleman inside the store was super kind and friendly. He apologized that many of the workers were not there (it was around 4 p.m.). Apparently they had just finished a big commission work a few days earlier and were letting employees leave earlier to make up for the extra hours. Not to mention it was quite warm outside so leaving early was also a way to help them cope.
This lady left off was she was doing to show me how she would set in a sleeve. I barely had time to take the picture and she was done! I wonder if they need interns!
Then I went next door and he showed me how wool is cut from a pattern. Isn’t it amazing! I want one too!
Finally after the ‘rough’ cut is done, the pattern pieces are handed over to the the next person for refining. Now that really takes a lot of practice to master. I wouldn’t want to stick my fingers in there!
The workshop also had other industrial machine to make buttonholes and attach buttons and…something else I don’t remember (sorry)
The garment they were making would eventually become a coat like this one.
I was really enthusiastic and thankful for this accidental experience. I was especially happy to see that not all production has been outsourced to the Far East and companies still prefer to resort to local experienced workers to deal with their most valuable products.
Visiting Lodenwelt – Loden Museum
If you are interested in visiting you can follow the entire process from shearing, the mysterious fulling process and all the other phases the coarse wool goes through to produce the elegant, highly sought-after clothing we know today. The final stop is the Restaurant Café Lodenwirt.
Unfortunately, there was not time for me for the whole tour…but I had already quenched my sewing thirst with my sewing workshop tour
Tel. + 39 0472 868540
Know that when I was taking these pictures I was really wishing you were there with me. So I hope I managed to recreate the discovery feeling through my post.