Vihtori Luhtanen decided to start his own company in 1907.His wife designed and sewed whilst Vihtori was responsible for the sales. In the early 1910’s Vihtori Luhtanen employed two seamstresses and this was the first step towards creating his own sewing workshop.
The first industrial sewing workshop
At the age of 23, Jaakko Luhtanen travelled to Helsinki where he contacted successful negotiations with the Board Members of the Wholesalers Association which accepted his company as a customer. This was a significant step in the growth of the business. The operation was expanded. The construction of the first industrial sewing workshop was completed in 1928 at the old business location close to the railway station in Lahti. The workforce now consisted of 30 people.
Thrift saved the company during the recession in the early 1930’s. Its economical operating methods were emphasised when the competition was though. Only direct labour costs and material were taken into account in the pricing. Everybody was working hard and at great speed. Moleskin trousers, Regatta-tunics and men’s flannel underpants were in production.
Trust between generations
Vihtori Luhtanen gradually delegated the business responsibilities to the next generation and in 1944 Jaakko Luhtanen became the managing director of the company.The war years were difficult for the company, and the years immediately after the war were not easy either as there was a constant shortage of textile materials. Fabrics were mainly woven from paper. Nearly every possible item of textiles or clothing were included in the production programme from hats to vest and to ties. The demand was high and the supply was limited. After the war the company sold only to its former customers and even to them only in the same ratio that they had made purchases from the company in 1939. New customers were not accepted and no short term profit was sought. Profound trust was developed between the seller and the customer.
Rationalisation of production
By the 1950’s supply and competition had returned to normal. the range of products was retrieved and more emphasis was placed on leisure wear.
A decade of fashion and globalisation
In the 1960’s Luhta had a huge success as a brand name in Finland and it offered a pioneering collection which was modern, colourful and light. The main products were blouses, shirts and trousers. Simultaneously, new distribution channels were developed. The products were now sold directly to specialist shops and department stores instead of to wholesalers.
Radical product development
Luhta penetrated the international markets in the early 1970’s. This was advanced by Luhta’s competitive prices as a result of the devaluation of the Finnish mark in the late 1960’s, Luhta’s successful factory investment in Portugal and the decline of the clothing industry in Sweden.
The unique Luhta style develops
In the early 1980’s Luhta sales continued to grow, both in Finland and across the Continent. Luhta’s unique design was just right for the fashion trends of the day. Luhta had found its niche in skiwear in the international markets. The production of its old lines was discontinued, although these were to be re-started later.
Period of significant changes
A severe recession hit Finland in the early 1990’s and the consumption of clothing decreased. Many clothing manufacturers ceased traditing and the total workforce fell from 30,000 to 6,000.
Luhta had became a group of companies and its name was changed to L-Fashion Group. At the moment the group’s business units are creating their visions for the new millennium. The units are determined to succeed.