Hannes Strolz skiboots as UNIQUE as you
© Udo Mittelberger

Hannes Strolz skiboots as UNIQUE as you

Interview Hannes Strolz

In 1921, Hannes Strolz’ grandfather, a self-employed shoemaker, laid the foundation for a family tradition that has been connected with Lech and its alpine sport since then: the production of handmade and tailored ski boots.

It all started with leather ski boots, made for the few skiers that were there at the time; today Strolz ski boots are among the most modern and most innovative ski boots in the world. And while the design may have changed over time, the standards have been the same for more than 100 years: ski boots made at the highest level of craftsmanship, only from the best materials, hand- and tailor-made for each individual customer. Hannes Strolz, grandson of the pioneer Ambros Strolz and majority owner as well as manager of the worlds’ smallest ski boot manufacturing business – Strolz Schuhe GmbH – headquartered in Langen am Arlberg, knows this, too. The Strolz philosophy is not about quantitative expansion but about continuously producing better and better ski boots; made-to-measure, adapted to ever-growing challenges.

Evolution PINK

Evolution PINK

L.L./ From when you were little, you were always right there, watching ski boots being made. So, how have the boots changed over the decades?

H.S./ During my grandfather’s times, the boots were made from leather. Later, these mountain and work boots were fixed to the skis using straps and alpine bindings. In 1921, my grandfather developed a ski boot that was not just made from leather but also incorporated lining and reinforcement materials. Over the course of the 1960s, the boots were updated using my father Martin Strolz’ know-how; he was a ski racer and raced for the Austrian National Team for eight years where he even became vice world downhill champion in 1954. Using his input, the shank height was increased in order to provide more grip during turns and improve speed. At the beginning of the 1970s, my father started making plastic shoes and developed the process of foaming to perfectly tailor the ski boots. Today each boot’s characteristics are adapted to the anatomy of the foot and the wearer’s personal ski style.

“I wanted to continue the tradition my grandfather started, and that my father took over.”
Hannes Strolz

L.L./ When you were a teenager, you chose to train to become an orthopaedic shoemaker and then you studied graphic design – what was it that fascinated you and made you want to continue the family tradition in the third generation?


H.S./ I wanted to continue the tradition my grandfather started, and that my father took over. When I hold one of my grandfather’s ski boots in my hands now and look at the models that came after, I see a red thread – the experience values that were passed down from one generation to the next. And that’s where our business’ strength truly lies: we never stopped learning and because we sell our products directly here in Lech, we are close to the customer and can spot and fix problems quickly. I grew up in my family’s workshop and when I was eight years old, I made my first leather slippers. You could say I was born with a fascination for this craft.

© Udo Mittelberger

L.L./ In 2021 the label “Hannes Strolz” was developed and only a short while later the sub-brand “POP by Hannes Strolz” came along. What motivated you to take this step?


H.S./ With this new brand I had the possibility to really give free reign to all my ideas and visions. The youth line “POP by Hannes Strolz” is different from the classic collection and I’ve long wanted to realise something like it. The highlight, however, is our service where we personalise the Hannes Strolz ski boot. Customers get the opportunity to design their own ski boot and really make it UNIQUE.

L.L./ Where do you find the inspiration for your small, sophisticated ski boot collections?

H.S./ I’ve always wanted to make ski boots because they’re special. There are only a handful of ski boot makers in the world. Ski boots are my craft, my passion. And the Evolution PINK, for example, is something I initially created for my wife. But seeing that many people wanted this particular ski boot, we decided to add the PINK to our range of ski boots.

"Hannes Strolz ski boots – the original for more than 100 years. Made in Austria."
Hannes Strolz

L.L./ Even though you use modern technology, a lot of manual labour goes into making Hannes Strolz ski boots. What are the advantages of this process?

H.S./ Because we are so close to our customers, we can adapt to their individual needs quite easily and without many complications, and we can fulfil almost every wish. And we produce in the region and will continue to do so in the future: the ski boots shells are moulded in our workshop, the high-quality inner shoes are sewed in Lech valley, and the final assembly of the boots takes place in the small “Schulhaus”. Each step can be traced and consequently every tiny mistake can be fixed right away. Colour preferences – no matter how extravagant – we’ll make it happen. Hannes Strolz ski boots – the original for more than 100 years. Made in Austria.

L.L./ What’s the process behind making a tailored ski boot? What steps are required until a customer can hold their tailor-made Hannes Strolz ski boot in their hands – or rather wear it?

H.S./ It’s a short process, really: the customer makes an appointment to have their foot measured in our SKIBOOTIQUE or with a certified dealer. Then we make a threedimensional wooden last in our workshop, so, a replica of the foot. In the afternoon, the shoe is moulded and the day after the tailor-made shoe is ready for its debut. We even invite our customers to be part of the process and observe every step – provided that they have the time, of course.

© Udo Mittelberger

L.L./ In December 2021, your nephew, Merlin Strolz, opened his new Premium Store, the SKIBOOTIQUE – right here in Lech, where passionate skiers will find the entire Hannes Strolz ski boot collection. How would you say that the shop’s exclusive atmosphere reflects the brand’s philosophy?


H.S./ The SKIBOOTIQUE is a type of flagship store, located right at the village centre, next to the Rüfikopfbahn valley station. Just like the collection, the service and the fitting, the SKIBOOTIQUE is unique and designed to meet our customers’ needs. Nothing here is standard. Go for a stroll through the mall, take a look at the Hannes Strolz ski boot museum, or simply check out the entire ski boot collection up close – we’re always happy to see you. And there’s another highlight that only the SKIBOOTIQUE in Lech offers: a private shopping area where our customers have the chance to put together their own individual ski boot (with a large selection of colours for each element of the boot). That’s how their ski boots become UNIQUE, just like them!

Evolution S Grey 2023 12 02 090144 wawf 2023 12 02 090347 auzg
“We have one guiding principle: We don’t present something until it’s finished.”
Hannes Strolz


When I was a child, I often …
H.S. / ... played in the workshop.

The ideal ski boot needs to …
H.S. / ... fit, function, look good, and last.

I’m only barefoot …
H.S. / ... in the shower.

I find inspiration for new ideas ...
H.S. / ... when I’m out skiing with my wife, Sandra.

L.L./ How can we picture a personalised ski boot, can you really define everything about the boot and are they all really unique?

H.S./ Yes, everything is possible. The client can choose their preferred colour and, if they so choose, even multicoloured boots. You could, for instance, have pink joints while the boot itself is sky blue. It’s also possible to have to different-coloured boots or boots with different levels of hardness, different levels of cushioning, canting, different heels, soles and much more – it all depends on how the customer skis. And through all this the boot really becomes a unique product!

“Because we are so close to our customers, we can adapt to their individual needs quite easily and without many complications, and we can fulfil almost every wish.”
Hannes Strolz
© Hannes Strolz

L.L./ You were the first to come up with a combination boot for skiing and snowboarding. What are you working on right now? What highlights from the tailor-made shoe area can we look forward to?


H.S./ We are always busy tinkering, and we never stand still. We continuously think about what could still be improved. And we have one guiding principle: “We don’t present something until it’s finished.” Which means that we try to meet our own expectations and those of our customers at all times – and we do so by only putting boots on the market that are 100 percent what we want, both in terms of function and form.

Inside story

The production process for Strolz ski boots has been following the same guiding principles for generations: orthopaedic know-how, a lot of experience and expert craftsmanship produce a ski boot that is individually adapted down to the last millimetre. Throughout the process, Hannes Strolz collaborates with local partners who have also been keeping up the highest quality standards for generations – just like Strolz. And that’s how the Strolz ski boot journey continues – always with the right balance of tradition and modernity.

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