The “introducing” part of this post title is perhaps a little misleading. While I only learned about the brand a couple of weeks ago, the original Ludwig Reiter opened his first shoemakers workshop waaaaay back in 1885. 128 years and four generations of Reiter’s later, his eponymous brand is still going strong. I’m an absolute sucker for a label with a history so the tale of Ludwig Reiter immediately had me intrigued. Within two years of establishing his workshop in the 4th district of Vienna, Ludwig’s shoemaking skills had been spotted by the K.u.K Army who commissioned him to supply their security guards with custom-made boots and Officers with welted shoes. But while this recognition got the ball rolling, it was his son Ludwig Reiter II who really established the brand as a major player in the luxury footwear industry. Having spent several years travelling between Germany, England and America working in various different shoe factories along the way, Ludwig Reiter II returned to Vienna armed with the knowledge to transform his father’s workshop into a small shoe manufacturing plant, implementing the mechanised Goodyear welting method. In 1919 the first Ludwig Reiter boutique opened its doors on the Weidner Hauptstraße in Vienna where, amazingly enough it remains to this day. I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow account of the next centuries developments but suffice to say, the brand continued to expand and prosper under Ludwig Reiter I’s descendants.
Nowadays Ludwig Reiter’s bespoke footwear (and luxe leather accessories) can be found in any of their 16 stores and 200 speciality shops worldwide. I don’t know about you but personally I find this story impressive on so many levels. The fact that one man’s shoe workshop in 19th century Vienna could have gone on to go quite this global all the while remaining a family company and sticking to the craft techniques largely long forgotten by the shoemaking industry is pretty extraordinary. In November Ludwig Reiter opened their first London boutique in the heart of Mayfair (where else?!) so I decided to go along and check it out last week. Given the company’s long history, I was hoping for something beautiful, traditional and classic. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The store itself is the epitome of elegance, housed in a pillar framed white townhouse with an interior that combined rustic, workshop chic with a healthy dose of refined opulence. And then there were the shoes… I always love a good brogue and recently the idea of having a pair custom-made has become something of an obsession. If the day ever comes when I can afford to get some then Ludwig Reiter will definitely be my first port of call. With quite literally thousands of exquisite skins, leathers, soles and styles to choose from they are the epitome of understated luxury… And some of them are shiny, yes please!
Love Ella. X