1897 – Founding the Carl Hässner shoe factory
Carl Häßner establishes his first shoe factory in Weida, Thuringia at the age of 34. He makes slippers and felt shoes by hand. After modernizing the factory in 1905, he concentrates on handmade leather shoes. Tanneries in the area offer great opportunities for partnerships.
1922 – 25TH ANNIVERSARY – DANCE ON THE VOLCANO, COFFEEHAUS CULTURE, AND VARIETY NIGHTS
Production temporarily ceases during World War I. In 1919, 25 employees start producing 100 shoes per day. The shoes are distributed by train and bicycle. Due to their quality and refinement, the shoes are especially popular with artists and big city bohemians in Berlin.
3. 1935 - WORLD WAR II AND THE TIME OF UPHEAVAL
Zeha’s founder dies and his son, Carl Jr., takes over the company. Due to delivery bottlenecks and employees entering the military, the company’s end looks certain. 30 Zeha employees now produces alternative footwear made of fabric and synthetic leather, work shoes and hand-stitched sports shoes.
1947 – HOHENLEUBEN
Production increases. A new factory is built in Hohenleuben. Carl Junior's son, Karl, becomes an equal partner. In addition to manufacturing outdoor shoes, the company specializes in sports and football boots, as both father and son are enthusiastic football players.
1954 - BIRTH OF THE SPORTS SHOE WITH TWO DOUBLE STRIPES
Carl Jr. risks a new start and specializes in sports shoes. In 1955, the shoes with two double stripes are registered as a trademark in East and West Germany. Exports to West Germany, Belgium, Holland and Singapore begin in 1956. The double stripes become the distinguishing feature.
1960 - SPORTS SHOES FOR TOP ATHLETES
Zeha is the East German sports shoe brand. The Carl Häßner shoe factory becomes the official supplier to the East German Olympic team. East German athletes from around 60 disciplines wear Zeha. Specializing in innovative sports shoes for different disciplines leads to international recognition.
1972 - NATIONALIZATION
Shortly after Zeha’s 75th anniversary, the company is expropriated and the operation becomes fully nationalized. The company becomes “VEB Spezialsportschuhe Hohenleuben.” The internationally protected Zeha trademark with two double stripes remains. But the patent rights are transferred to VEB.
1989 - THE TURNING POINT AND THE END OF A SUCCESS STORY
The company remains the East German supplier to the Olympic, World and European Championship teams. The focus is on new and further developments. A year after the Berlin Wall falls, the Treuhand (German Privatization Agency) takes over the business. Production finally ends in early 1992.
2002 - THE COMEBACK IN BERLIN
Alexander Barré accidentally rediscovers the shoes of his youth at a friend's home. Together they find old shoes, leather shafts and product catalogues in the Hohenleuben Museum of Local History. The dream of a sports shoe revival is born. The first Zeha Berlin shoes are sold around Christmas 2003.
2006 - FOOTBALL WORLD CUP IN GERMANY - CARL HÄSSNER REVIVAL
Zeha designs a Carl Häßner collection in honour of its founding father. The 50s retro style World Cup collection is hugely popular. It still remains one of the top-sellers with the Liga and Club models. The high-quality processed Urban Classics arrive in 2007 - with a bag collection as well.
2009 – FIRST ZEHA STORE IN BERLIN
The first Zeha store opens in Prenzlauer Berg and others soon follow. Each Zeha store tells its own story with an individual concept: a gym with old sports equipment, an authentic shoemaker's workshop or a retro living room ambience. The online shop is launched in 2011.
2014 - AT LONG LAST - THE DESIRED MODELS COME TO THE MARKET
The Zeha portfolio expands with the Fechter (fencer) and Marathon models. The Carl Häßner Libero and football boot Derby arrive in 2015. The Trainer, with crepe soles, based on the special training shoes of the 60s, is released in 2016. Accessories like purses, belts and socks are also available.
2019 – JUST IN!
Supplementary cutting lines, new types of leather and innovative sole design: the Marathon launches with a new look. The Carl Häßner collection expands with the models Finalist, WM66 and Liverpool. And without the double stripes for the first time: the Binz beach shoe - a tribute to the 50s.