In recent years the tradition of wearing Lederhosen and Dirndl in Germany (also known as "Tracht") has experienced a sort of modern day revival. What originated as the garb of the working peasantry of the 18th Century, the Lederhosen as well as the Dirndl has undergone many evolutions along the way. We at Bavarian Specialties are working hard to bring the fresh, new stylings of the contemporary "Tracht" to the United States, keeping all the old traditions alive and well, but with a more vibrant look.
The Lederhosen, which are said to have emerged in the Alpine regions of Germany and Austria, were the trousers of the working peasant community - they were sturdy and held up to the rigorous work of the time. However, leather trousers were actually worn in many regions of Europe by riders and also hunters. But it was in the south of Germany or "Bavaria" that a unique style developed - a pair of leather trousers with a front drop "flap". This style became quite popular and in France the style was dubbed "a la bavaroise" or "Bavarian style". During the Rococo period of the 18th Century it was also fashionable for the courtly society to emulate the simple life of the peasants, and hence, the style also took hold in the nobility. While the peasantry wore both short Lederhosen and longer styled "Kniebundhosen" made of goat or sheepskin that was dyed black, the nobles, who were often adept hunters, chose to make their Lederhosen of deerskins - a much softer and higher grade of leather. These were then richly decorated to symbolize their nobility.
Part of the uniqueness of Lederhosen can also be attributed to their intricate embroidery that is found both on the trousers as well as on the suspenders. Oftentimes the embroidery signified a certain region of the country and people began to attribute a regional pride in wearing their Lederhosen. In fact, in many of the small villages the regional "Tracht" was taken very seriously and one often owned several pair of Lederhosen for different occasions - for everyday work as well as for very festive occasions such as a wedding. While these traditions have lasted even into the modern day in some areas, most of today's Lederhosen have been replaced by blue jeans for everyday life and work and Lederhosen are now worn mostly at cultural events or festivals, such as the Oktoberfest or "Kirchweih" as well as to a Biergarten.
During the onslaught of blue jeans across the earth (which ironically were also invented by a Bavarian named Levi Strauss who emigrated to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush) the Lederhosen lost their popularity in everyday life, especially among younger generations. However, in recent years there has been a new interest in this traditional garb, and people of all ages are again wearing them to the festivals. The Lederhosen now come in short and long styles, and in many leathers along many price ranges. One can expect to pay about $250 for a basic pair made of durable goat leather. They typically come in black and brown leathers, but other colors are also available: khaki, gray, and even red for younger boys! However, more expensive Lederhosen are also still available in deerskin and come with intricately designed embroidery and can cost up to $1,000!