Founded in the Austrian city of Bregenz in 1950, Wolford is the market leader for luxury Skinwear “made in Europe”. In the decades of its existence, it has produced numerous product innovations, some of which are still bestsellers today. The company designs and manufactures its products exclusively in Europe and meets the highest environmental standards and has a workforce of 1,347 employees (FTE). With more than 250 monobrand points of sale (POS) and over 3,000 trading partners the brand is present in more than 60 countries worldwide and has been listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange since 1995.
Wolford generates nearly half of its revenues with its core legwear product group. Closely matched with the core product group are the company’s lingerie and ready-to-wear products – decorative and in some cases figure-embracing products like bodies and shirts (bodywear) as well as matching dresses and pullovers. These products are supplemented with a small selection of accessories such as scarves and bracelets.
In its product offering, Wolford makes a distinction between fashionable Trend products and the Essential collection, which includes all of the company’s timeless classics, such as the Satin Touch tights offered since 1988 already. The Essential collection accounts for around 70 % of revenues.
Tradition and Innovation
Having started out in 1950 as a producer of pure silk and rayon stockings on Lake Constance, Wolford is now the epitome of exclusive legwear and bodywear for many women worldwide. This success is based on a round-knitting technology specially developed and constantly refined by Wolford, as well as on sophisticated workmanship and quality checks. In combination with the finest yarns, this creates the specific comfort and product quality underlying the Wolford brand and its reputation. All products are made in Europe: The tights and bodies are produced in Bregenz on 404 individually customized round-knitting machines operated in premises with optimized climatic conditions. Alongside the research and development department, the company headquarters is also home to a doubling mill, steaming facility, dyeing room, and molding workshop, as well as a proprietary color laboratory. Manufacturing takes place in Murska Sobota, Wolford’s location in Slovenia, where textile manufacturing also has a long tradition.
For nearly 70 years now, Wolford has repeatedly introduced pioneering product innovations that have become real bestsellers – from Miss Wolford (1977), the first transparent shaping tights, to the first seamless Body (1992) to the Pure 50 tights (2014), whose lack of any seam mean that they also remain invisible under tight-fitting clothing. Comfort is Wolford’s trump card. The Comfort Cut tights, which have been on the market since 2016, have waist sizes that can be individually adapted to every figure. The seamless 3W Skin Bra (on the market since January 2017) does without clips and is made out of a single piece of material. This makes it especially comfortable to wear.
The company’s visual presentation is also unmistakable. Wolford has set standards here over the past decades, as is exemplified by its cooperation with the world-famous photographer Helmut Newton in the 1990s. He played a key role in creating the image of the strong, self-confident Wolford woman. Most recently, Wolford worked together with the well-known fashion photographer Ellen von Unwerth. Always open to creative ideas, Wolford has repeatedly worked together with prestigious designers –Armani, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld, Missoni or Marina Hoermanseder.
Sustainability as key priority
Wolford’s production processes also meet the highest global sustainability standards in the textile industry. This claim is confirmed by the company’s partnership since 2015 with bluesign technologies ag, a global network whose system stands for safe textiles and environmentally-friendly production. Here, the focus is not only on evaluating select end products, as is the case at many eco-labels, but rather on analyzing each individual stage of production and each chemical used, with these being optimized or replaced when necessary. Following a correspondingly extensive auditing process, Wolford is now the world’s first tights producer recognized as a bluesign® system partner. Furthermore, all legwear products knitted and dyed by Wolford itself on a cotton and polyamide basis for the Essential collection have “bluesign® approved” status. This certification was confirmed once again in 2017.
The production facility operated in Bregenz since 1950 borders directly on the Lake Constance water conservation zone and therefore has to meet particularly high environmental standards. Not least because of this, efficient resource use has been an active tradition at Wolford for decades now.
The measures taken to modernize the boiler house, steam boiler, and water processing at Wolford, which have optimized the use of waste heat and halved the volume of emissions harmful to the environment, were publicly acknowledged at the end of 2016 by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management.
As part of the Smart Textiles industry network, Wolford is also working to develop a Cradle to Cradle® lingerie series.
This involves developing legwear and lingerie products using raw materials that can either be recycled in full or that are fully biodegradable. Under Wolford’s leadership, 13 companies in the Vorarlberg region that produce suitable lingerie components are participating in the project. The first biodegradable leggings and pullovers were presented with the 2018/19 autumn/winter collection which are completely compostable.
In April 2019, the company was also granted the “Cradle to Cradle Certified™ (Gold)” award for the development of technically recyclable (i.e. completely reusable) products. Wolford will already present the first corresponding legwear products in 2020. Up until now, Wolford is the first and only company in the clothing and textile industry to be given certification in Gold by Cradle to Cradle™ for the development of environmentally neutral products in both categories (biodegradable and technically recyclable). This certification singles out products that demonstrably use environmentally compatible, healthy, and recyclable materials. Certification is based on the Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels.
Present in the world’s top shopping centers
Wolford has a dense network of more than 250 prestigiously situated monobrand boutiques in the world’s fashion capitals – with a mix of partner boutiques and proprietary locations in strategically relevant cities. Wolford’s light, non-creasing products are especially well suited for easy repeat purchases via the internet from home. Customers in a current total of 17 countries can already shop around the clock in Wolford-owned online boutiques. Not only that, Wolford products are also sold at numerous international department stores. At Harrods and Selfridges in London or Bergdorf Goodman in New York, for example, the products are offered in exclusive shop-in-shops that present the products in Wolford’s own atmosphere.
Wolford’s creations are also available at a large number of exclusive fashion and specialist retail stores. These are supplemented by the travel retail business at airports and major railroad stations.