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Traditions: What’s the Deal with German Lederhosen?

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Traditions: What’s the Deal with German Lederhosen?

If you have ever gone to a traditional German event, it’s likely you have seen the men wearing lederhosen. These are knee high leather pants, often brown in color.

Today, you may only see lederhosen worn at festivals. But once upon a time, they were a practical German wardrobe item. So, what exactly is their origin? This article will tell you all you need to know.

Lederhosen Origin

No one is sure when lederhosen first appeared. Although many say early sightings go to back to the 17th century, in 1991, hikers discovered an old frozen man, nicknamed Otzi the Iceman, wearing them. They predict him to be over 5000 years old.

Lederhosen were quite practical for the climate in Central Europe. The leather protected the wearer from cold and from being scratched by bushes and rocks. However, in later years, lederhosen were more commonly made from wool.

Wool was a better alternative as it did not hold moisture like leather did. It was also easy to clean, and its stiff material meant it rarely got wrinkled.

What’s Up with the Knee Length?

If lederhosen were meant to protect the legs, why are they knee length, you might ask.

Well in the 16th century, knee length pants became all the rage with the French upper class. Therefore, they had their lederhosen altered to a knee length fashion. They opted for a soft deer hide leather material that was more practical for outdoor activities and not as stiff as the heavy goat skin worn by peasants.

After some time, the upper class became bored with knee length looks favoring full-length trousers instead and lederhosen became a peasant style once again.

Updates to Lederhosen

Over time, people got creative with their lederhosen fashion. For example, Bavarians came out with ‘a la Bavriose’ pants that featured a flap over the fly area. They were commonly worn by farmers and even dairy maids. They were a popular choice because they were easy to wear when sitting on stools, which is often done at a farm.

The pants were also made with lots of pockets making them a convenient option for hunters and foresters who carried lot of knives and tools.

In the 1800’s Levi Strauss came out with longer denim pants, essentially jeans. They were called ‘loden’ in Germany.

Loden did not completely replace lederhosen as they were still worn by mountaineers and rural famers.

There were also those who felt replacing loden with lederhosen represented a loss of the Bavarian culture. In fact, one schoolteacher felt so passionately about maintaining lederhosen that he formed a club called The Association for the Preservation of Folk Costumes in Leitzahnthal in 1883.

When the wearing of lederhosen got group members banned from the church, they called on King Ludwig II who was known to love all costumes. He became enthusiastic about lederhosen, and it was once again a royal trend.

Lederhosen as a Royal Trend

The new royal adoption of lederhosen made them the height of style. Upper classmen wishing to wear them had them embroidered and made with soft leather materials. This made them more of a fashion look and less like work clothes.

In 1887, lederhosen were the official dress for men attending Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. They were also worn by those tramping up hills looking for Edelweiss.

After WWII, lederhosen fell out of popularity due to their association with the Nationalist Socialist Party. But they were still worn by children as they made highly durable playwear.

Lederhosen Today

Lederhosen are still a popular look for the people of Germany. Young people often wear them for a night out clubbing. In 2013, two Salzburgers started a “LederhosenDonnerstag movement sharing images of themselves wearing lederhosen every Thursday.

Ten years ago, most lederhosen tanning was done in the Far East or Pakistan. Today, people prefer authentic German lederhosen and will pay thousands of euros to get their hands on a pair. You are lucky if you can find one in your grandfather’s closet.

Buying Lederhosen

Those looking to buy lederhosen should pay attention to a few design details as follows:

Fit: Lederhosen should fit tightly but comfortably. Keep in mind that leather will give when it’s worn, and you won’t want a baggy bottom.

Length: Lederhosen should end just above the knee, not below it.

Leather: There are several options in the type of leather you choose. Deer skin is the softest and the most expensive. However, they will last a lifetime. Goatskin is not quite as soft, but it will become more comfortable with wear. Suede from a cow is less expensive and a good option if you only wear lederhosen occasionally to festivals.

How to Care for Lederhosen

Lederhosen is made from leather and therefore cannot be cleaned in a regular washing machine. It’s advisable to air them out after every wear and remove any surface dirt with a damp cloth or special brush. If they become stained or especially dirty, you will need to take them to a professional.

Lederhosen have an authentic flare that make them terrific for celebrations and events. Their enduring style has made them relevant in modern times. Will you be adding a pair to your wardrobe?

Read more of A Christmas Blog or Shop Now at Schmidt Christmas Market

Traditions: What’s the Deal with German Lederhosen?

Traditions: What’s the Deal with German Lederhosen?

Posted by Hedi Schreiber on

If you have ever gone to a traditional German event, it’s likely you have seen the men wearing lederhosen. These are knee high leather pants, often brown in color.

Today, you may only see lederhosen worn at festivals. But once upon a time, they were a practical German wardrobe item. So, what exactly is their origin? This article will tell you all you need to know.

Lederhosen Origin

No one is sure when lederhosen first appeared. Although many say early sightings go to back to the 17th century, in 1991, hikers discovered an old frozen man, nicknamed Otzi the Iceman, wearing them. They predict him to be over 5000 years old.

Lederhosen were quite practical for the climate in Central Europe. The leather protected the wearer from cold and from being scratched by bushes and rocks. However, in later years, lederhosen were more commonly made from wool.

Wool was a better alternative as it did not hold moisture like leather did. It was also easy to clean, and its stiff material meant it rarely got wrinkled.

What’s Up with the Knee Length?

If lederhosen were meant to protect the legs, why are they knee length, you might ask.

Well in the 16th century, knee length pants became all the rage with the French upper class. Therefore, they had their lederhosen altered to a knee length fashion. They opted for a soft deer hide leather material that was more practical for outdoor activities and not as stiff as the heavy goat skin worn by peasants.

After some time, the upper class became bored with knee length looks favoring full-length trousers instead and lederhosen became a peasant style once again.

Updates to Lederhosen

Over time, people got creative with their lederhosen fashion. For example, Bavarians came out with ‘a la Bavriose’ pants that featured a flap over the fly area. They were commonly worn by farmers and even dairy maids. They were a popular choice because they were easy to wear when sitting on stools, which is often done at a farm.

The pants were also made with lots of pockets making them a convenient option for hunters and foresters who carried lot of knives and tools.

In the 1800’s Levi Strauss came out with longer denim pants, essentially jeans. They were called ‘loden’ in Germany.

Loden did not completely replace lederhosen as they were still worn by mountaineers and rural famers.

There were also those who felt replacing loden with lederhosen represented a loss of the Bavarian culture. In fact, one schoolteacher felt so passionately about maintaining lederhosen that he formed a club called The Association for the Preservation of Folk Costumes in Leitzahnthal in 1883.

When the wearing of lederhosen got group members banned from the church, they called on King Ludwig II who was known to love all costumes. He became enthusiastic about lederhosen, and it was once again a royal trend.

Lederhosen as a Royal Trend

The new royal adoption of lederhosen made them the height of style. Upper classmen wishing to wear them had them embroidered and made with soft leather materials. This made them more of a fashion look and less like work clothes.

In 1887, lederhosen were the official dress for men attending Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. They were also worn by those tramping up hills looking for Edelweiss.

After WWII, lederhosen fell out of popularity due to their association with the Nationalist Socialist Party. But they were still worn by children as they made highly durable playwear.

Lederhosen Today

Lederhosen are still a popular look for the people of Germany. Young people often wear them for a night out clubbing. In 2013, two Salzburgers started a “LederhosenDonnerstag movement sharing images of themselves wearing lederhosen every Thursday.

Ten years ago, most lederhosen tanning was done in the Far East or Pakistan. Today, people prefer authentic German lederhosen and will pay thousands of euros to get their hands on a pair. You are lucky if you can find one in your grandfather’s closet.

Buying Lederhosen

Those looking to buy lederhosen should pay attention to a few design details as follows:

Fit: Lederhosen should fit tightly but comfortably. Keep in mind that leather will give when it’s worn, and you won’t want a baggy bottom.

Length: Lederhosen should end just above the knee, not below it.

Leather: There are several options in the type of leather you choose. Deer skin is the softest and the most expensive. However, they will last a lifetime. Goatskin is not quite as soft, but it will become more comfortable with wear. Suede from a cow is less expensive and a good option if you only wear lederhosen occasionally to festivals.

How to Care for Lederhosen

Lederhosen is made from leather and therefore cannot be cleaned in a regular washing machine. It’s advisable to air them out after every wear and remove any surface dirt with a damp cloth or special brush. If they become stained or especially dirty, you will need to take them to a professional.

Lederhosen have an authentic flare that make them terrific for celebrations and events. Their enduring style has made them relevant in modern times. Will you be adding a pair to your wardrobe?

Read more of A Christmas Blog or Shop Now at Schmidt Christmas Market

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