Olivia Strolz is the fourth generation of her family to manage the traditional business located in Lech, which will celebrate its 100-year-anniversary next year. Born in Bregenz and great-granddaughter of founder Ambros Strolz, she practically grew up in the sports-gear store, where she played between fashion and ski boots as a child. With her passion for old crafts and her feel for technical innovation she makes sure Strolz continues to offer the best gear, clothing, and shoes – all of which were carefully chosen for the Arlberg’s climate and lifestyle.
L.L./ You studied architecture in Vienna and now you run Strolz Sport & Mode. What were your reasons for leaving the big city to run the family business in Lech?
O.S./ It was never my plan to do that. But while I was writing my thesis, I spent a year in Lech and I worked as a trainee in each department. Just to take a look at everything I did not want. That’s important to know, right? But then I ended up really enjoying myself and I fell in love with the business and the staff. I worked as an architect for two years before I was given the opportunity to become part of the business. And since my family was ready to support me I accepted the offer.
L.L./ In 2021 Strolz will turn 100. What events have coined its history in particular?
O.S./ With a 100-year history my share as manager for the past three years is probably the smallest (laughs). What comes to mind right away are all the people who have played their part here. We are in the process of making a film and producing input where all those who have helped build up Strolz get to speak up. They are the real companions, some of them have been with the company for 50 years. It really is fascinating to listen to them and to see how the business has influenced some people and vice versa. And that’s not just my own family. Even if grandma Herta Strolz has a lot to say, of course.
Just to take a look at everything I did not want. That’s important to know, right?
Wordrap with Olivia Strolz
My morning ritual…espresso and off I go.
What I love about Lech Zürs…the amazing nature.
A typical piece of clothing for Lech Zürs…the Dolomiti shoe.
In my free time I like to wear…a mix of urban and local styles.
Trend or style? Style.
My favourite slope on the Arlberg? Zürser Täli.
You can’t leave Sporthaus Strolz without…a warm thank you.
L.L./ The sports gear and fashion industry changes continuously. What is your vision for Modehaus Strolz? Or, in architectural terms: where are you in terms of realisation – more in the excavation phase or in the topping-out ceremony?
O.S./ I would love to focus more on the area of service. At Strolz we want to be the gate to the Arlberg. Along with the 100-year anniversary next year, Strolz will take over the digital world. So, I’d say we’re working on refurbishment.
L.L./ Both architecture and fashion have something to do with design. The ski service station is an architectural jewel and your catalogue has been impressively stylish for years. What design language are you focused on at Strolz?
O.S./ When you’re just in the process of taking over you should stick to what’s there and introduce new aspects as well. Especially concerning the catalogue it’s great that we’re keeping with the same style while adding something new every year. Next year there will be yet another new element. And in our shop, we try to make sure there’s always something new to be discovered. We ensure a clear line of sight that’s not cluttered. And we always work with the same materials – brass, gold, and wood. Our style? Modern and clean, but still alpine.
It really is fascinating to see how the business has influenced some people and vice versa.
L.L./ Lech and Vorarlberg are known for their architecture. As an architect – how would you describe Lech?
O.S./ Lech has managed to retain its characteristic charm. Also thanks to strict building regulation and architectural rules that have to be followed. And I’m sure there are a few special highlights that are yet to be discovered. Lech’s USP is that behind every hotel or business there is a family whose style, taste, philosophy, and history are clearly visible. That means that it’s never generic and always very special.
L.L./ How do you stay fashionable in wind and weather?
O.S./ Definitely with layers. Layer upon layer. In sports gear this has been a trend for a while and now it’s becoming increasingly popular in fashion, too. If you look at this years’ women’s shoes collection, you’ll see how fashionable pieces can be combined with functional ones. Completely weatherproof!
At Strolz we want to be the gate to the Arlberg.
L.L./ How would you describe your own style?
O.S./ Smart casual, maybe?
L.L./ Which five pieces do you always bring when you go on holiday? What is a must for you?
O.S./ A soft shell jacket is a definite must. Whether in summer or winter -it’s simply irreplaceable. Aside from that everything that’s crease-free and easy to handle.
When you’re just in the process of taking over you should stick to what’s there and introduce new aspects as well.
L.L./ Every year the sports and fashion industry is inundated with new trends and innovations. What criteria do you apply when putting together a new collection?
O.S./ That’s something we do as a team. We are always interested in what’s new and innovative. In many cases something that looks like an innovation will turn out to by the same as usual, though. Innovations we love are tested before we bring them into the shop. Last year it was ski underwear from Aigen which is ideal in terms of thermal regulation and comfort. Does that sound good, or not so much? We’ll test it and when we’re convinced, we can offer it in our shop with a clear conscience.
L.L./ “Think global, buy local.” What is so special about buying regional in Lech Zürs?
O.S./ The amazing thing is that there are many products from the region. Like Golden Eagle skis which are produced near Salzburg. Or the Strolz boots which are produced near here. And culinary delicacies that are only available here.
L.L./ In all those years “strolzen gehen” – which can be translated as “to go for a strolz” – has become a proper term. Why would you say guests who are in Lech and Zürs for the first time should absolutely “go for a strolz”?
O.S./ Because it’s more than just shopping. It’s a part of Lech. And it’s not necessarily about buying something, you can always swing by for a bite of ham, to meet my grandma or simply find inspiration in the shop. I’m always happy when I get to invite someone in for a coffee.
I’m sure there are a few special highlights that are yet to be discovered.
In 1921 Ambros Strolz opened a shoemaker’s workshop where he made ski shoes from leather for the few skiers that were around back then. Precisely 97 years later his great-granddaughter Olivia Strolz takes over the reins of the family business. Today as well as back then Strolz seeks to fulfil one aspiration: offering gear at the highest possible level of craftsmanship and made from the best materials. Olivia Strolz is an architect, manager of “Strolz Sport & Mode” and part of the board of Vorarlberg’s young business people’s association, Junge Wirtschaft Vorarlberg.