Nestled alongside a glistening lake with views of the Alps in the Austrian town of Bregenz is the global headquarters, flagship store and factory outlet for hosiery and women’s clothing firm Wolford.
The brand’s smart, polished offices and technically sophisticated factory – where 95% of its product is made – exudes an ethos of quality, which runs through to what ends up on the shop floor.
The factory never sleeps, with tights, bodywear, lingerie, swimwear and clothing produced around the clock. Each piece is subject to strict assessment before packaging and distribution. If a slightly uneven seam is discovered, the item will be promptly tossed into the seconds pile.
Wolford was founded in 1950 by two entrepreneurs, Walter Palmers and Reinhold Wolf. It is now controlled by chief executive Holger Dahmen, who has turned in some healthy figures for the financial year to April 2008. For the first nine months, sales figures worldwide were up 15.9% and the company was on track to reach total sales of £124 million for the year.
“The main growth area, in terms of product, was bodywear and ready-to-wear,” explains Dahmen.
The brand is distributed in approximately 70 countries, with subsidiaries of the business in a further 11. It has 350 wholesale accounts in the UK and two stores, with a handful more scheduled to open in the near future.
“We have been growing in all distribution channels over the past two years, not only in our boutiques and partner boutiques, but also in our speciality stores and department stores,” says Dahmen.
Best known for its premium stockings, made with seamless circular knit technology, the brand is now focusing on its clothing offer. It has hired a new head designer, Ronald van der Kemp, to oversee the development of its collections.
For spring 09, the clothing range includes ruched dresses, tube pencil skirts, silk cardigans and crisp, tailored shorts. Lingerie comes in a pastel colour palette, with highlights including delicate polka dot prints, pinstripes and lace.
Swimwear will have both classic and more trend-driven looks, including safari and zigzag patterns, with shapewear elements built into some suits to help tone and support the wearer.
“We carefully select products that we think will fit very well with how we would like the consumer to understand Wolford,” says Dahmen.
Designer collaborations have linked the Wolford brand to some of the most successful designer brands in the business. Missoni, Kenzo, Valentino and others have all put their touch on Wolford tights and bodywear. Dahmen hints that another big name is on the cards, but is staying tight-lipped until details are confirmed.
3,500: Number of points of sale that Wolford has worldwide
230: Number of mono-brand outlets the brand has worldwide
17: Number of Wolford factory outlets worldwide