Pi Attitude Zone: Affiliation & Cohesion

The Lederhosen Cycle

One of the cruelest fashionista put-downs is “That style will probably come back one of these days”.  Occasionally it comes true.  Take, for instance, the strange case of German Lederhosen.

The lederhosen look combines red-and-white gingham checked shirts and sturdy knee-socks with the eponymous knee-length leather shorts or breeches, held up by decorative suspenders and sporting a bizarre floral-embroidered bib-flap at the front. The costume is often topped off by a natty green felt Alpine hat with feathers at the brim. 

Lederhosen first took off in the 18th century as the traditional dress of the Alpine regions, including Southern Germany, Switzerland and the Austrian Tyrol.  The 19th-century Romantic movement made them widely popular, until they were gradually relegated to being considered work clothing for farmers.  In the 1930s Nazi Germany took them up again as an informal ‘uniform’, a symbol of national belonging.  In the aftermath of World War Two, lederhosen were swept aside by an invasion of American-style blue jeans.

Now they’re back.  Again.  Following decades of being considered hopelessly naff (at least by non-Bavarians), lederhosen are suddenly cool again, and being worn by rich and poor, old and young alike.  Bayerisch teenagers  have been sighted wearing them in discotheques and clubs.  Visitors to Munich’s Oktoberfest beer festival wouldn’t be seen in anything else as they slam their brimming steins on bierkeller tables.

Pi believes there are modes of dress whose primary purpose is to make a statement about the wearer, like Texan cowboy hats and Scottish kilts.  Their re-emergence often coincides with periods of economic and social unrest and upheaval, implying that donning traditional dress is a way of dealing with uncertainty.  Lederhosen-wearing is probably no different.

Zone: Affiliation & Cohesion Country: Europe Product – Consumer Products