Catering to the local community of outdoor enthusiasts, Maloja, the German brand of functional apparel with cool designs, is opening its first American flagship store in Stowe, Vermont, on Sept. 28. In the U.S., where the company has a subsidiary that handles sales to more than 170 retail stores in the U.S. and Canada, Maloja already has its own online web store. This is the only market where it sells online. There are no plans to sell online elsewhere.
Maloja began to operate in the U.S. with a retailer in Sun Valley, Colorado, in 2009. REI adopted the brand in 2016, but the relationship didn't endure, and the German brand is now concentrating in North America on retailers located in mountain regions that can deliver the brand's message. The U.S. sales subsidiary carries inventory for replenishment and is led by Landon Stirling, who previously led the company's business in Canada. One sales representative covers the eastern region and another the western region and Rocky Mountains.
In addition to its autumn/winter collection of lifestyle apparel and clothing for mountain and road cycling, climbing, Nordic and backcountry skiing, Maloja will be showcasing a special new line of lightweight racing suits with ultrasonically welded seams and laser-cut inserts for the U.S. Biathlon Team, under a partnership that is entering its second year.
Maloja already has seven other mono-brand stores elsewhere in the world. Five are in Germany – in Munich, Aschau, Wiesbaden, Freiburg and Oberstdorf – and the other two in Seoul, South Korea, and Innsbruck, Austria. Except for the store in Munich, all of them are franchised.
Without providing specific figures, the company has reported an increase of 50 percent in its sales in the bike segment for the first half of this year in comparison with the same period of last year. This year marks Maloja's first sponsorship of a European bike racing team, called Maloja Pushbikers, for a series of road races. In Holzkirchen near Munich, Maloja recently opened a “home base” for its bike racing community.
Maloja's total sales, which the company doesn't want to reveal, increased slightly in the first half. There was strong growth in the Alps, primarily in Austria, but also in southern Germany, northern Italy, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. The company grew strongly also in South Korea, driven by its bike apparel line.
Germany accounts for 50 percent of the Bavarian company's total sales, and Asia for about 10 percent. Other major European markets are Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic. It works with about 900 retailers in 26 countries.
About 20 percent of the products sold by the company come from its own five-year-old factory in Bulgaria, called VioModa, which employs 250 people. It has subcontractors in Europe and Asia, but about 70 percent of the production is made in China.
Maloja has started working with a Chinese production partner that offers hemp-mixed fabrics. The apparel line made with such fabrics has been expanded for spring/summer 2020 and was presented at the OutDoor by Ispo show in Munich a few weeks ago. Also presented at the show was Maloja's first yoga apparel collection for women, which is manufactured mainly by a partner in Portugal.
The company is based at Rimsting, near Lake Chiemsee, using a former barn with old wood and wooden furniture. Named after a mountain in the high valley of Oberengadin, it was founded by two young locals, Klaus Haas and Peter Räuber, in 2004. A year later, Maloja won one of the newly launched Ispo Brandnew Awards.
Haas and Räuber are still running the company, specializing in design and strategy and finance, respectively. They started off with bike clothing, subsequently developing more multi-functional apparel. A few weeks ago, Maloja was honored with the Bavarian Family Business Award for 2019 in the “innovation” category.