Luhta 110 Years – An international Finnish success story

For Luhta, 2017 has been a celebratory year for two reasons. Finland has been celebrating its 100 years of independence,
and Luhta its 110-year history. Over the years, the company has grown from a small sewing workshop to an internationally successful business operating on multiple continents.

In 1907, Vihtori Luhtanen founded his own company in Lahti with his wife, Jenny. Their business idea was to combine Jenny’s craftwork skills with Vihtori’s sales talent. Vihtori started off by doing business at the market square in Lahti, selling men’s and women’s underwear and aprons embroidered by Jenny. Sales were successful, and so the Luhtanens broadened their selection to cover new products. As well as aprons, their range now also included cotton work shirts, moleskin, nanking and everlasting trousers, as well as regatta shirts, the fashion items of their time. Soon the smaller room in the Luhtanens’ home was converted into a shop.

The first Luhta sewing workshop was set up in Anttilanmäki, Lahti. The company later moved to the centre of Lahti, where a sales outlet was also opened. From downtown Lahti, the main office moved to a new business building in Asemantausta, where it operated from 1989 to 1992. Today, the company’s headquarters is still located in its hometown of Lahti, now in a fine twelve-storey high-rise building beside the motorway to Helsinki, with good connections to Helsinki Airport as well. Since its beginnings 110 years ago, Luhta has grown from a small sewing workshop to an international clothing business.

Growth through outerwear manufacturing

For more than one hundred years, Luhta has mastered the upward and downward phases of the economic cycle. At the same time, the world around it has changed, and the operating environment has transformed enormously. In the 1960s, Luhta created a clothing range that was more modern, technically lighter and suitable for everyday use. Consumers started to be better off than in previous decades, and in addition to having more money and choice, they quickly learnt to demand more and better products. People were keen to buy new and fashionable clothing, and wanted it to be high-quality, easy-care, well-fitting and comfortable. Luhta fulfilled these wishes creating the supply to meet consumer demands. Providing consumers with a continually up-dated product range and collections is vital, year after year. In short, the combination of an unbeatable price-quality ratio and modern design and look is the key to success.

Finland is where everything happens – the design and marketing of all Luhta Group’s brands, as well as steering the engine of the corporation. Product manufacture has moved away from the domestic market over the past several decades. Most of Luhta’s manufacturing operations are located in China, where a subsidiary is responsible for production.

Visibility through sponsoring

Luhta has sponsored many renowned top athletes and public figures with great success. Among these are Formula 1 world champion Keke Rosberg, race car driver Ari Vatanen, ice hockey player Jari Kurri and American movie star Don Johnson. Luhta is also known as the outfitter of winter competitions since the 1960s. Sports events will be the surroundings for the company’s brands in the future as well: the Finnish Olympic team will represent Finland in apparel designed and manufactured by Luhta in PyeongChang in 2018, in Tokyo in 2020, and in Beijing in 2022.

Full circle

Retail business has grown into an inseparable part of Luhta Group’s operations throughout this century. At the turn of the millennium, one of the most significant decisions in the company’s history was made at Luhta with the company broadening from traditional industrial clothing to the retail business. Vihtori Luhtanen started off as a market vendor at the beginning of the 20th century. Now retail business is part of all the Luhta’s divisions, so we have come full circle.