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Oktoberfest reject Chinese-made lederhosen


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The Munich Oktoberfest, the world's biggest beer festival, normally reverberates to the sound of cheery drinking songs, slapping of thighs and the oom-pah-pah of the tuba. This year there are also howls of protest that Bavaria's heritage is under attack from cheap lederhosen made in China.


For the purist, a true Bavarian wears only lederhosen made from the hide of a Bavarian deer and stitched and embroidered by a Bavarian tailor, preferably in an Alpine village with cow bells tinkling nearby.


However, Otto Dufter, the chairman of the Bavarian Federation of Folk Costume Societies, says that this year, costumes worn by many at the festival are “yuppie outfits” that have nothing to do with true Bavarian dress.


“Our societies exclusively use the domestic lederhosen makers,” he said. “We don't use any pseudo-costumes made abroad.”


The row concerns the leather shorts and dirndl - the traditional Alpine woman's dress. New Oktoberfest fashions such as dirndl punk — a revealing combination of tight leather hotpants and deep-cleavage corsets — have angered Bavaria's folk societies, which still buy their lederhosen, felt hats, knitted socks and frilly frocks from home-grown tailors.


Munich department stores admit that many of the outfits on sale are made from imported leather and fabrics, or are manufactured in China, India or Eastern Europe to save costs. They say that many local people want their costumes to be affordable because they wear them only once a year at the Oktoberfest.


“Folk costumes should be made where they're worn because heritage refers to one's homeland,” Hans Lehrer, a member of the Munich-based Isargau folk costume society, said. “I'm against people buying lederhosen made in Romania just because it's cheaper.”


Mr Lehrer said embroidered lederhosen made from Bavarian deerhide cost from 600 euros (£470), while the imported equivalent cost about 150 euros.


“But it's worth paying the extra money,” he added. “A good lederhose is like a second skin and it will last you your whole life if you don't get fat.”


Oktoberfest fashions change from year to year, with variations in pattern, cut and colour, and Munich women face peer pressure to keep up with the trends. Despite the global fame of the festival, almost three quarters of visitors are from Munich and the surrounding area.


In recent years the imported clothes have pushed prices down to the point where many lederhosen tailors have gone bankrupt, according to Alexander Wandinger, an expert on the folk dress. “We have fewer than a hundred traditional tailors left,” he said.


Folk societies from across Bavaria paraded their costumes defiantly at the opening of the Oktoberfest at the weekend in a procession that included wind bands and mountain farmers giving impressive displays of Bavarian thigh-slapping dances and rhythmic whip-cracking. The parade was broadcast live on nationwide television.


Mr Dufter said that the city of Munich had managed to make the beer festival more traditional in the past three years by ordering oom-pah bands in the tents to play more local music and to keep the volume down.


About 900,000 people visited the festival at the weekend, consuming 450,000 litres of beer supplied exclusively by Munich's six main breweries and specially brewed to a higher strength for the event. The festival runs until October 5.


Follow my leder


During the 19th century in Bavaria it became fashionable among the nobility to follow the “pastoral” style of dress. The traditional long sheepskin trousers of farmers and country people were shortened — in line with contemporary aristocratic fashions — and embroidered. During a later revival of the trend, in 1913, the Archbishop of Munich declared short lederhosen immoral


Source: Bavaria-Lederhosen.com



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