Unbeknownst to many, a lot of today’s best-selling luxury brands are operated by one family. Although having been acquired by a luxury holdings group is more common nowadays, there are still brands that are exclusively run by the descendants of its founders. This is especially common Italy, which is also home to a number of the most beloved fashion labels in the world. Houses like Fendi, Prada, and Missoni are businesses whose leadership were passed down from one generation to another. In the neighbouring country of Spain, in its fashion capital of Madrid, another label is also operated by a family dynasty: Loewe.
Loewe has become Spain’s most luxurious luxury goods and fashion label. It also one of its original houses, giving birth to the fashion scene in Madrid, a city that is on its way to becoming on par with those of London, Milan and Paris. While many associate Spain as the home of fast fashion retailers, such as Zara and Mango, it’s also the native land of such labels like Loewe and Balenciaga, both which stand for the very excellence in design and craft. Although the latter has become synonymous with French fashion, thanks to its association with haute couture, Loewe is still decidedly-Spanish and ultimately refined.
The First Stretch of Success
It was initially founded in 1846 as a fur studio in the heart of the Spanish capital, by a group of artisans and craftsmen. They established the name Loewe in 1872, when a German artisan, Enrique Loewe Rossberg, became the central business partner of the brand. After a few years in business, they eventually became the premier luxury goods label in the whole of Madrid, attracting a clientele of aristocracy and noblemen. By 1892, the company, now named “E. Loewe” had branched out beyond selling furs and have ventured into leather goods, making use of the most exotic materials known to man such as iguana, crocodile, and snakeskin.
In 1905, the company gained the title of “The Official Supplier to the Royal House”, making many of the Spanish Royal Family’s leather accessories and garments. At this point, the label began expanding to different parts of Spain, becoming a sort of national symbol of luxury and elegance, especially with the Royal Family donning their products. In 1934, Enrique Loewe Knappe carried on the family business, leading to even more expansion during most of the 20th century. Their first international store opened in London during the 1960’s, while a decade later in the 1970’s, they branched out in Asia by opening their first store in Tokyo, Japan. From the 1990’s onwards, they’ve also started releasing ready-to-wear for both men’s and women’s, further solidifying their status as a Spanish fashion powerhouse
Even during its early years, Loewe has attracted a number of high-profile clients and customers. Various members of the Spanish Royal Family, namely King Alfonso XIII, his wife Queen Victoria Eugenie, and Queen Sofia have all been known to own pieces from the acclaimed brand. In more modern times, a barrage of well-known women has become Loewe fanatics, frequently seen with a handbag or two from the brand. There are actresses like Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Alba, singer Kylie Minogue, and models Karlie Kloss and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, just to name a few. Oscar-winning Spanish actress Penelope Cruz has even fronted the brand’s ad campaigns numerous times.
Influence and Operations Today
Today, Loewe is operating under LVMH, the biggest luxury holdings group in the entire fashion industry. It’s also become a significant show during Paris fashion week, with their ready-to-wear collections receiving critical and commercial acclaim season after season. Jonathan W. Anderson, a Northern Irish designer, heads the creative team at Loewe. With his unique and artistic approach to design, both the men’s and women’s collections have become influential for the fashion community, rivaling those of Prada and Celine, two of the biggest players in ready-to-wear. For their seasonal shows, both men’s and women’s, they show at Paris Fashion Week, regarded as the most important among all the four fashion capitals.
Paired with the formation of the Loewe foundation back in 1988, a private cultural foundation that supports the arts, the fashion house has gone beyond the realm of commercial luxury goods and became more artistic and more fashion-forward. Along with their advertising and marketing, the brand continues to center their operations with a better focus on the artistry and craftsmanship of their products, the very foundation of what has become a fashion empire – arguably the most important one in Spain.
Like many of its kind, Loewe continues to bring out some of the best products money can buy, all the while maintaining a business run by one family. But far from its contemporaries, the company stands proud as a beacon for Spain’s luxury sector, slowly building up an industry that can eventually rival that of France and Italy. Their influence in their country’s own industry has been so grand that they’ve become the official supplier for the Royal Family, a feat not a lot of fashion houses, regardless of success, can claim as their own.