Bavarian traditional costume is cult. Not only at the Oktoberfest do visitors wear lederhosen and dirndl. At many MICE events, too, participants like to dress in traditional costume. To avoid organisers or agencies having to buy hundreds of Dirndls and Lederhosen themselves, there is Bavarian Outfitters - here you can easily rent original costumes even for groups of over 1,000 people.
The Oktoberfest is in full swing. It must be high season for you. Do you still have a Dirndl and a pair of Lederhosen in stock for me, or is everything pre-booked?
Oh, it's going to be tight. In fact, in September, almost all of our traditional costumes have been pre-booked for weeks. We still have a few in stock, but these are more for back-up in case a Dirndl is not returned or if the ordered Lederhosen does not fit.
Does that mean that most of the time the ordered clothes really fit? That's not usually the case with online orders.
Most people know their clothing size and we now know all the international clothing sizes and can convert them. And indeed, traditional costumes, i.e. Dirndl dresses and Lederhosen, are not as complicated as other clothes. A Dirndl, for example, can be laced tighter or wider and therefore basically always fits. And if the specifications were wrong after all, we have these few in stock for exchange.
"And indeed, traditional costumes, i.e. Dirndl dresses and Lederhosen, are not as complicated as other clothes."
How long have you been renting traditional costumes?
Bavarian Outfitters has been around since 2010, when it was born out of a beer mood. We actually created it as a pure B2C business, limited in time for the Oktoberfest. At that time, we had just 50 Lederhosen for rent.
In the meantime, I can also borrow a costume from you in the other months.
Yes, exactly. It quickly became clear that the B2B market was very interested in what we had to offer. Of course we found that attractive, but we had to do a 180-degree turn, because this market has completely different demands than private customers.
"It quickly became clear that the B2B market was very interested in what we had to offer."
To what extent?
Well, the customers we originally targeted come to our shop office shortly before or during the Oktoberfest. They pick something out and bring it back the day after. The MICE customers, on the other hand, need advance notice and of course a lot more Lederhosen and Dirndls. So we created an extensive website where you can see all the models and pre-order them. We also programme customised websites and apps for the clients so that their event participants can register directly with their clothing size. And then, of course, we have a whole other preparation phase: everything is put together, packed and labelled with names. On the day of the event, we then drive to the hotel or venue with the costume packages, mobile changing rooms, mirrors and service staff.
Who rents your traditional costumes? Also locals or only guests from abroad?
Occasionally, people from Munich come by who have "outgrown" their traditional costumes. Especially after the pandemic, that happened quite often. But the majority of our customers are in the MICE sector and usually come from all over the world.
"Occasionally, people from Munich come by who have "outgrown" their traditional costumes."
What about you - do you still wear Lederhosen yourself?
Rarely. It's a bit like the baker who has eaten his fill of his own bread. I still think traditional costumes are beautiful, but I rarely wear them myself.
The Lederhosen, shirts, Dirndls and blouses have to endure a lot if they are worn so often. What do you look for when you buy them?
Only good quality and durability. Lederhosen have that anyway. They are almost indestructible. With Dirndls, the seams have to be good and the details like buttons, hooks and zips have to be of high quality. Then they don't mind frequent cleaning.
And how do you clean the clothes?
Most of the clothes go to a large dry cleaner. If customers pour beer over their skirts or trousers, you can get them clean again quite well. But cleaning leather trousers is really a science in itself. We were very lucky to be able to engage a former master leather tanner as a consultant, who really knows his stuff when it comes to leather cleaning. On his advice, we now treat particularly stubborn stains with CO2. But most of the stuff really does come back in good condition.
For which occasions are the traditional costumes rented?
It ranges from sales meetings to trade fair dates to road shows. When international companies are in Munich, a kind of "Bavarian evening" is usually planned. That's where we come in. Many of our clients now prefer to organise an evening in traditional costume for the participants rather than providing goodie bags. Such a special experience simply stays in people's memories more than the tenth mug or a branded key ring.
And how many Dirndls and Lederhosen do you actually have?
Enough to adequately equip groups of up to 1,000 people. Around 900 Lederhosen and about 700 Dirndls.