Saddler & Leather Wares: SALEWA

Written by Federica Marziale
Photo by Alberto Sinigaglia

Week 49

At high altitude, what we are used to in everyday life is turned upside down, functionality and technicality are positioned at the highest point of the pyramid and lightness is everything. Here no aesthetic is contemplated if not functional and no addition is allowed if not necessary. Subtraction, or rather, practicality is key. This is the SALEWA story.
It all began on July 8th, 1935, when Josef Liebhart, the director of Munich´s Cooperative for Saddlers and Tapestry Handlers registered a sister corporation for Saddler and Leather Wares: SA (Sattler / Saddler) LE (Leder / Leather) WA (Waren / Wares). At the outset photo bags and ski poles made from hazelnut tree wood were the major sales items. In 1955 SALEWA developed a unique Andes backpack to support the expedition of Hermann Huber, who was to become SALEWA’s managing director.
It wasn’t until the 1960’s with the development of it’s adjustable light crampon and tubular ice screw, which set new standards in alpine innovation, that SALEWA was thrust onto the international stage. Today the tubular ice screw – a running belay or anchor used by climbers on steep ice surfaces – is an industry standard.
Minimalism, simplicity, lightness and practicality, seasoned with high attention to quality have always been the values and characteristics that SALEWA have followed. They seek to ease the journey, facilitate lightness, and advance movement. These are essential rules to follow when your body defies nature and feels the infinite power of the universe. And they must be translated, hence manufactured, in the form of high technical products that are safe and infallible.

SALEWA has always looked for the right fuel to power its research and experimentation. This has led to numerous collaborations with famed mountaineers and climbers such as Reinhold Messner (Italian mountaineer and adventure) and Kurt Albert (German climber and photographer) in order to test ideas during expeditions. The company’s goal has always been to focus on technically advanced, lightweight and innovative items, which set the grounds for their campaign “half weight – double resistance”. The development of the Helium in 1994, then the world´s lightest helmet, set the premise for this new goal. In 2001 the company developed a complete lightweight collection, which truly epitomized their objective.
Engineering an adjustable hood, placing the pocket at the top end of ones clothing for easy accessibility, regulating temperature through the use of technologically advanced materials, designing versatile pants that can be both long and short, means investing in and laboriously testing new techniques, in order to design a collection that is truly functional.
To engineer products that let you experience untouched landscapes, and feel harmoniously integrated with the natural realm, means having a truly adventurous outlook. SALEWA, with headquarters in Bolzano, is now a world leader in alpine products, present in 30 countries and supplying to some 2,500 shops around the globe.