Traditional costume is more than just dirndls and lederhosen. We visited some traditional shops and young designers in Munich to explore their traditional costume accessories.
The upcoming Summer in the City event presents a great opportunity to give your traditional costume another outing this year. Putting on a pretty dirndl or a pair of comfy lederhosen will leave you only half-dressed though – you need to add traditional haferl shoes, appropriate traditional jewellery and a practical dirndl bag to complete your outfit. We visited a number of traditional Munich shops and young designers to find out what you need to know when buying and wearing traditional costume accessories.
Whether you are looking for classic or modern traditional jewellery, you’re bound to find what you need at Anja Schubert’s shop and studio on Herzogstraße in Schwabing, where the goldsmith has been producing her own creations for seven years now. Originally from Cologne, Anja started out by making jewellery that could be worn with a dirndl for herself, her friends and her colleagues. Since then, her label frida’s has also become known for handmade engagement and wedding rings.
“Pieces such as the minimalist pretzel ring can be worn anywhere and will remind you of home, Munich and tradition all year round.
Those who are more traditionally inclined can choose from vintage-inspired pieces such as a braided silver ring or a pretty gold medallion, while pretzel chains and dachshund pendants offer a more modern and playful take on local heritage. When choosing dirndl jewellery, Anja advises people to buy something they can wear every day: “It’s a pity for a piece of jewellery to be left in a drawer most of the time and only be taken out once or twice a year. Pieces such as the minimalist pretzel ring can be worn anywhere and will remind you of home, Munich and tradition all year round.”
All the items sold at frida’s are handmade, and Anja also accepts jewellery commissions – not just for weddings, but also for traditional wear. Even as a child she could often be found looking over her mother’s shoulder in a goldsmith’s workshop, and then twelve years ago she came to Munich and fell in love with Bavarian traditional costume – particularly dirndls: “I have always loved incorporating local traditions into what I do.”
frida's Schmuck, Herzogstraße 85
halfs is one of the only places in Munich where you can buy classic Bavarian shoes that are stitched in the traditional style rather than glued. This construction method means the shoes last longer, explains founder and managing director Achim Wünsch: “We have some customers who bought haferl shoes from us 20 years ago, and who continue to bring them in to be repaired again and again when the sole wears through!” halfs does repair work in-store, while the actual production of shoes takes place in Spain – in a factory that specialises in cowboy boots and has the machinery needed to shape the tips correctly.
“A black pair of haferl shoes is always a good choice – it’s what mountain marksmen and traditional costume associations wear as well.”
Traditional haferl shoes are not completely round at the front, but actually angle to a point over the toes. This shape came about because the shoes were once worn by farmers and hunters who would also use them for mountain climbing; the squared-off shape supports the toes while preventing damage to the nails. You might also be interested to learn that the side lacing often seen on traditional shoes is more common in Upper Bavaria and Austria. Achim explains that haferl shoes which are laced “straight”, i.e. in the conventional manner, originate from the Allgäu region – where he himself comes from, in Pfronten.
The brightly-lit shop, located near the English Garden (park), features boxes piled right up to the ceiling, with a handmade pair of shoes inside each one. Though the shoes are presented as either traditional dress shoes or hiking shoes, their styling is so classic that they can be worn every day and in any setting. People come to Achim’s shop in Schwabing from as far away as Miesbach to buy traditional shoes. Achim offers the following advice when buying haferl shoes: “Many customers think that their shoes need to be in the same leather and the same colour as the traditional costume they’re wearing – but you don’t have to do it like that. A black pair of haferl shoes is always a good choice – it’s what mountain marksmen and traditional costume associations wear as well.”
You can also buy hand-knitted traditional socks at halfs. They are made by a pensioner who has been knitting for halfs for 16 years, and each pair requires about 30 hours of work; the amount of effort they require is understandably reflected by the €175 price tag. “The socks should be worn pulled up,” advises Achim. He follows up with a laugh, saying, “But that might change over the course of your visit to the Wiesn!” He also has a clear opinion about Wadenstutzen – traditional calf warmers: “Please only wear warmers that emphasise your calves if you actually have some.”
halfs, Feilitzschstraße 35
For over one hundred years now, Europe’s largest hat business has been located in Munich’s pedestrian zone. The three-storey Breiter Hut store has everything you could wish for to adorn your head – including, of course, a large selection of traditional hats. Some of these hats are even produced in the shop’s associated workshop in the Bahnhofsviertel area, though larger volumes are handled with help from manufacturers in Allgäu, for example. After production, every hat is customised to the buyer and shaped by a milliner in-store, to ensure it sits perfectly; just one of many reasons you should never buy a hat online.
“Many people don’t know how to put a hat on properly any more: The hat should sit just above the ear, that means it fits perfectly.”
We meet Alexander Breiter, the fifth-generation head of this family business which has been operating for over 150 years. He introduces us to the complex world of traditional hats and explains that “weekday hats” are made from wool, for more robustness, while “holiday hats” are crafted from lighter rabbit fur. Every region has its own style. So you can find, for example, the Munich city hat; the Dachau “melon”; and the classic Werdenfels hat – the three top sellers in the shop’s traditional costume department. But it’s not just a matter of style, as there are also different ways of wearing a hat, such as the “reverse six” style, which shows that the wearer comes from the area around Garmisch.
Adding pins to a traditional hat is also a way of indicating where you come from and what you enjoy doing – rather like a social media profile. You can add pins to say you are a hunter or an angler, that you love edelweiss or pretzels. You can also wear a “bart” – literally a beard, though more like a plume – made from deer, badger or chamois hair, depending on which creature is common in your region. This last element can cost several thousand euros, as making one may take months or years of manual work, depending on how large the bart is.
It’s clear that there is plenty to know about traditional hats. However, Alexander says: “Everyone can wear whatever they like! There is no single, definitive traditional costume, so I am rather tolerant in that regard. There has always been one thing or another changing over the last few centuries, and that will continue to be the case in the future.” There is only one thing that bothers him as he walks around Oktoberfest or through Munich’s centre: “Many people don’t know how to put a hat on properly any more. The hat should sit just above the ear, that means it fits perfectly. It should not sit on top of the head, but it also shouldn’t cover the ears.”
Breiter Hut & Mode, Kaufingerstraße 23
If you’re looking for a gift while in Munich, Servus Heimat is the obvious place to go. This is not just a souvenir shop for tourists, but also a place for locals. The concept has been thriving in the city centre for fifteen years, and the company now has three stores. One of these is located in the Münchner Stadtmuseum (city museum), where the Servus Heimat branch is also a museum shop which adapts to current exhibitions.
You will find a wealth of products for people interested in Munich, Bavaria and the Alps, from a dachshund shirt to a pretzel-shaped teething ring; from cuckoo clocks from the Black Forest to a Bavarian piggybank. If you’ve already bought your traditional outfit and are looking for accessories and souvenirs, this is where you’ll find the perfect finishing touches: beer steins in all shapes and sizes, colourful gingerbread hearts and fabric masks printed with Bavarian sayings. We also found the “Wiesn-Wimmelbuch” hidden picture book which would be the perfect gift for anyone who is missing Oktoberfest!
Servus Heimat, Sendlinger Str. 1
Stefanie Jabs and confectioner Julie Bamber are the faces behind Keksliebe. The two founders, who met at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, work together producing cakes to order for birthdays, weddings and corporate events at their premises on Gärtnerplatz in Munich, and have also become renowned for their gingerbread hearts. These hearts are available in large sizes for wearing around the neck, or small for immediate eating or gifting.
The gingerbread hearts can be personalised with your own message, or you can choose from the ready-made texts on offer, such as “Spatzl”, the endearment used by famous Munich TV character Monaco Franze for his wife, or “Bussi”, meaning “kiss”. What’s more, if you buy one of the “ehrliche Wiesnherzn” (“genuine Wiesn hearts”) produced in collaboration with Mit Vergnügen München online city magazine, you will also be eating for a good cause, as half the profits from the sale of these treats will be donated to Munich’s Ambulantes Kinderhospiz outpatient children’s hospice. You can also buy a Wiesn Hits collection online or in-store, featuring dachshund, beer stein and edelweiss biscuits.
Keksliebe, Corneliusstraße 20
Designer Bea Bühler is well-known in Munich for selling high-quality handbags, which are handmade at a Parisian manufacturing facility. Bea also procures the natural leather from a French supplier, ensuring that materials do not need to be transported far to get to the production site in Paris. The interior designer commutes between the two cities and sells her leather bags and accessories from a small shop and studio in Munich’s Au district.
“A dirndl bag should be small and lie close to the body, but it should also be elegant – and most importantly, it should look beautiful across your décolletage!”
A few years ago she expanded her range of classic designs, such as the “balloon bag”, to include a dirndl bag that is now being sold by up-and-coming traditional costume label Amsel Fashion. The dirndl bag not only looks and feels good, it is also very practical: the bag comes with a matching purse inside, which includes enough space to keep cash and cards and can be secured within the bag using a carabiner.
The Bea Bühler dirndl bag is also simple enough that you can wear it all year round, with only the strap hinting at its origins in traditional costume: “When I was designing the bag, I was inspired by the zigzag bib that you see on lederhosen. It looks pretty even when worn across the body, and is a subtle detail.” Bea offers the following advice: “A dirndl bag should be small and lie close to the body, but it should also be elegant – and most importantly, it should look beautiful across your décolletage!”
Bea Bühler, Entenbachstraße 47
Other articles that may interest you: Second-hand, a local label, a traditional store – we tried them all as we explored Munich’s selection of traditional dress.