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Our Story


Tradition and the spirit of the time

Our story is typical for Berlin, unconventional, crazy, influenced by the changing times and always with the vision: to make cool sneakers with the typical double stripes.

The Zeha story started over 100 years ago. The rise and fall of the Berliner wall belongs to the “made in the GDR “ just as much as the Berlin of the wild 90’s with its anarchy and night club culture.

In 2002 came the crucial re-launch. With lots of optimism and courage, the new style Zeha sport shoes were introduced to the waiting market. We want to revive the unmistakable style of sneakers worn by the East Berlin youth.

 
Today the whole world is wearing Zeha Berlin sneakers. People love the tough and colorful styles of street wear- or the Carl Hässner Collection which make our models to that what they are, modern, fresh and from Berlin.
 

Philosophy and Quality

Apart from new trends and inspirations which we find both in Berlin and on our travels, the high quality of the materials and their processing and production, as well as fair production conditions belong to the crucial characteristics of the Zeha Berlin philosophy. Our shoes and accessories are hand made exclusively in Portugal and Italy. The high quality natural leather types are processed in select leather tanneries and manufactured according to certified quality controls.
 


1897- Where it all started

Far away from Berlin, in Weida in Thueringen, Carl Haessner founded the Zeha Leather Manufactory.
For men’s and ladies shoes in 1897.

The Golden Twenties

In dance on the volcano, coffee house culture and variety-nights. In the twenties Zeha shoes were much loved by the Berlin artists and big city bohemians alike. Quality and refinement make the shoe variations to sought after objects.



 

The 1950’s : Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Reconstruction, the division of Germany and the establishment of the former GDR are changes which Carl Haessner has to compete with. Following his intuition he decided to concentrate completely on sneakers and risk starting from scratch. In 1954 he entered the Zeha sneaker with the double stripes as copywrite brand name.


The actual birth of the Zeha Berlin sneaker.


The 1960’s: 17 million are wearing Zeha!

Zeha models are the sport shoes in the former GDR, whether by school sport, in the schoolyard, or as official supplier for the GDR athletes in 60 disciplines, everyone knows and wears Zeha. Zeha developed the first football shoes with nobs and spikes or the lightest running shoes in international comparison.


 

1980ER: WE CAN BE HEROS...

The Berlin wall falls. The two halves of Berlin are reunited, economic chaos in the east. Zeha fails in the attempt to go private.


 
 

2002 East Berliner’s Dream and a New Start!

Alexander Barré, in Ost-Berlin aufgewachsen und eigentlich ein Maschinenbau-Studium in der Tasche, entdeckt per Zufall bei einem Freund die Zeha Sportschuhe seiner Jugend wieder.

Alexander Barre, grown up in East Berlin and a qualified engineer, discovers by accident at a friend’s house the familiar Zeha sport shoe of his youth. Equipped with a shoe lexicon he and his friend Torston Heine visit the local museum in Weida.

In the attic they find original Zeha shoes from the 50’s and 60’s, old shoe templates, leather samples and product catalogues.


 
The dream of Zeha Berlin and the sport shoe revival is born. Scarcely one year later, 2003, the first 43 Zeha Berlin pairs are sold for Christmas in three different Styles in BERLINOMAT. With business courage, many visions, equity financing and the support of friends Zeha Berlin makes a new start. We are developing completely new shoes for the most diverse kinds of sport from the old Zeha design templates, like tournament fishing rod shoes or fencing shoes. Hundreds of designs from the Carl Haessner archives are available to us. We would like to make all of them, but, for the time being, we decided on the running and training shoes and the hand ball shoes “Tempo” and “Finalist”.


 
2003
Our first Streetwear collection comes on the market and is inspired by the run & sport shoes from the 70's and 60's. Extremely light shoes with perfect cushioning made completely out of leather.
 

2006 CARL HÄSSNER REVIVAL & SNEAKER-HYPE!


 

For the Football WM 2006 in Germany, in honor of the founding father of Zeha we designed, together with Jürgen Sparwasser, a Carl Hässner collection. The WM collection in Retro-Style was an astounding success and together with the models “Liga” and “Club” still ranks today as one of our top sellers.

Meanwhile, apart from Europe, we are exporting Zeha Berlin collections worldwide to countries such as Japan, USA, Canada and Asia.


 


 

2007 URBAN CLASSICS & Bag-KOLLEKTION!

Inspired from our travels, by forms and colors, visits to traditional tanneries and manufacturers, we introduced in 2007, the Urban Classics collection with ladies and men’s shoes. Because of the high quality production at the manufacturers and the special wax treatment of the natural leather each model is individual. All shoes are made and sewn by hand and because of this very exclusive method of production, each pair is unique.

In the same year we are launching our bag collection with timeless and high quality travel and office bags made from various types of leather in elegant colors.


 

2008 ZEHA BERLIN & THE FIRST STORES! 

We open our first stores in Berlin. With individual themes and designs each store tells a part of Zeha Berlin’s history: whether it’s a gym with old sports equipment, an old cobblers shop or a retro style living room.
 
Photo below left: Zeha Berlin Store Kreuzberg
Photo below right: Zeha Berlin Store Schöneberg
 



Photo above: Zeha Berlin Store Prenzlauer Berg
Photo right: Zeha Berlin Store Mannheim.

2012 WE’RE GOING TO MANNHEIM!

The first Zeha Berlin store outside of Berlin is opened in Mannheim.


2013 CHANGE! 

After eleven years Zeha Berlin Torsten Heine leaves and Alexander Barre is the sole CEO.

2014: Our dream models become reality!

2014: NEW IN! LIFESTYLE ACCESOIRES!

We bring the Fencer and Walker models out on the market, just as we would like to have done in 2002 Excellent city and tote bags, smart back packs, leather accessories for those fond of travelling and for Berlin locals now complete our Lifestyle and Accessories Portfolio.