Short breeches with suspenders made from leather and decorated with embroidery may look a little bit odd on a grown-up man. But go try to tell it to Germans or Austrians! It’s their traditional garment which is being used for centuries. Even today, you’ll see dozens of males wearing lederhosen – that’s how such trousers are called – on the streets of Austria and Germany, particularly Bavaria.
Lederhosen literally translates as “leather pants” in Germany. Using fur or animal hide for pants goes way-way-way back to Ötzi – the Iceman, the 5,300-year-old frozen mummy who was found near the Alpen-Austrian-Italian border in 1991. But lederhosen, as we know it today, first took shape in the 1700s. These leather pants were said to have emerged in the Alpen regions of Germany and Austria as trousers of the working peasant community. However, leather trousers were actually worn in many regions of Europe by riders and hunters.
Farmers wearing short and knee-length lederhosen
The unique style of these leather trousers we know as lederhosen with the front drop flap has its roots in South Germany or Bavaria. Lederhosen fell out of fashion for a time in the 1800s as pants made from cotton or cloth began to gain popularity. But when King Ludwig II, who was Bavarian, professed he was a fan of the style, that was that, and lederhosen were back. Farmers and aristocrats alike started wearing lederhosen.
While peasants wore lederhosen made of goat or sheep skin that was dyed black, the nobles often chose to make their lederhosen from deer skins which were softer. These were richly decorated to symbolize their nobility.
Longer style lederhosen are known as “kniebundhosen” or “bundhosen” for short.
The embroidery at the lederhosen often signifies a certain region or town, and people began to attribute a regional pride in wearing their lederhosen. In many small villages, men would have multiple pairs of leather trousers: some for everyday work and some for very festive occasions such as a wedding.
Tiny kid's lederhosen
In the 2009 movie "Bruno" Sacha Baron Cohen wears a unique and rather unflattering style of lederhosen. We do not recommend this look.
One can expect to pay about $250 for a basic pair of durable goat leather lederhosen, however more expensive lederhosen are still available in deerskin and come with intricately designed embroidery and can cost up to $1,000. During the rise of blue jeans across our planet, ironically invented by a Bavarian named Levi Strauss, the lederhosen lost their popularity in everyday life. However, lederhosen are making a comeback. In smaller, more traditional towns in Southern Germany, you can see people wearing lederhosen on a regular basis. And you can see many people wearing lederhosen to places like Oktoberfest.
Cute female lederhosen
Today there are even some women's lederhosen that have a more feminine embroidery and a fashionable fit.
(c) Rare Dirndl