Employees of Munich Tourism in costume in the Bavarian Outfitters in Munich

Traditional dresses for Oktoberfest: A guide

Vintage Dirndls and Hirschlederhosen

Second-hand, a local label, a traditional store and a hire service – we tried them all on as we made our way through Munich's selection of traditional dress.

Traditional Bavarian dress is popular throughout the world – even H&M launched an Oktoberfest collection in autumn 2019. In Munich, they're not just the preserve of the Oktoberfest, they're also worn at the Frühlingsfest (Spring festival), the Auer Dult (festival) and at the Kocherlball (folk dance event) in the Englischer Garten (park). People get married, go the beer garden and party in traditional dress. The dirndl (women's traditional Bavarian dress) and lederhosen (traditional Bavarian leather shorts) are as much a part of Munich as pretzels and a "Mass" of beer. And there's plenty of choice when it comes to buying traditional dress. From high-quality dirndls by small Munich manufacturers to 80-year-old vintage lederhosen – we tried them all on.

simply tradition

Vintage traditional dress at Lederhosenwahnsinn and Holareidulijö

Herbert Lipah from Lederhosenwahnsinn is a true Munich original whose been trading in old lederhosen for almost 40 years. He used to have a stall at the Auer Dult and you can see that reflected in his welcoming shop in the Borstei (housing complex) which looks more like a treasure chest. There's so much to explore here that even after two hours, you're a long way from having seen and heard everything. Herbert might even pour you a beer and invite you to take a seat and list to his crazy tales.

You'll always uncover some rarities here because with around 650 pairs, Herbert probably has a bigger collection of lederhosen than anyone else. The oldest example dates back to 1866, and is of course not for sale. His collection largely comprises vintage lederhosen given to him or bought from friends, acquaintances and strangers. It includes lederhosen once owned by the writer Oskar Maria Graf and a pair from the noble house of Wittelsbach – made from soft chamois leather and weighing just 320 grams.

We learn from Herbert that lederhosen come in different price categories depending on whether they are made from cowhide, goatskin, chamois or deerskin – this latter being the most expensive. What's the best way to look after lederhosen? "Your own body fat and moisture." You should only take them to a dry cleaner when it's absolutely necessary – and you need a professional on the job. Herbert doesn't think much of the latest trend of wearing lederhosen that are narrower and sit on the hips: "Trousers should be comfortable, and shouldn't be tight-fitting. The only thing you should feel are the braces. You live in your lederhosen!"

Oktoberfest Munich

Is there anything left to say about Munich’s Oktoberfest? Absolutely! Here, you can find a wealth of facts about Munich’s Wiesn as well as great stories and the most beautiful moments experienced at the world’s biggest folk festival.

Herbert is able to match every traditional dress he sees at the Oktoberfest to its region: "Green bands and embroidery on the lederhosen mean Werdenfelser Land, the yellower it becomes the closer you get towards Tegernsee." New entry-level models at Lederhosenwahnsinn start at 250 euro, but exceptionally rare examples can cost several thousand euro.

Please don't let your outfit yodel – less is always more!
Herbert Lipah from Lederhosenwahnsinn

To learn more about vintage dirndls, however, head to Michaela Klein at Holareidulijö. The trained master leather-worker has run her shop in the Maxvorstadt for almost 30 years. Like Lederhosenwahnsinn, the place is packed with hundreds of lederhosen, dirndls, accessories and rare items. What's really special: not only are second-hand traditional costumes for sale, the owner also restores them herself. Used dirndl blouses start from ten euro, with vintage dirndls costing between 30 and 300 euro. With particularly rare pieces, like an old pair of lederhosen with two-colour embroidery, Michaela copies the original and replicates it in a cheaper version so that anyone can afford it.

Holareidulijö is also a label that designs new dirndls from second-hand ones. For a long time, Michaela herself wore only lederhosen, but these days it's 50s dirndls from the Salzburger Land (region) that set her heart racing – but she's always loved vintage traditional dress: "Old traditional dress has much greater appeal for me, and the fabrics are usually more special too. Plus, when I'm wearing something like that, I know its a unique piece!" Her tips when purchasing traditional dress: Avoid polyester because if you're going to sweat, cotton is the only thing. The plainer the better and please, no checked shirt! Choose white or a striped pattern as they are more timeless.

High-quality traditional dress from the young Munich label Gottseidank

In 2010, there came a new take on old-fashioned traditional dress: when Jörg Hittenkofer founded his label Gottseidank, Munich residents and visitors snatched up his traditional and fashionable dirndls and lederhosen, items so beautiful you want to wear them all the time. And luckily you can, because the label also makes everyday clothing.

As soon as you enter the light-drenched store on the Schleissheimerstrasse, which is rather reminiscent of a hippy studio, you can't wait to touch and try on the dirndls, knitted jackets and woolen trousers. The creators at Gottseidank puts a lot of value on the materials – some of them are sourced regionally from Chiemsee, as well as from Italy. The knitwear is produced in Germany, but the yarns conversely come from Austria. The most important thing is getting the quality right, and you can feel it – from the buffalo horn buttons to the hand-pleated apron.

I can decide what's beautiful and what's not – in my little world.
Jörg Hittenkofer from GottseiDank

The samples are made either in the label's own sample-making department in Milbertshofen, right next to the shop, or made in the Bavarian Forest. Gottseidank has its dirndls made in Hungary and Poland, while the lederhosen are made in Germany by master leather-workers from the Bavarian Forest. The starting price for a dirndl: 549 euro, but for that you get something that will really last and that you'll love wearing. Jörg's vision for his label: To further develop traditional dress, yet keep things authentic, and return to its roots in a move away from new fashion mass production and back to high-quality, traditional clothing. And he's made a real success of it.

Rent a dirndl and lederhosen for a day from Bavarian Outfitters

It's definitely the most sustainable option if you just need traditional dress for a day: Bavarian Outfitters. The Munich rental service has been hiring out dirndls and lederhosen at low prices for eight years. You can rent a lederhosen set with a shirt and socks for 49.90 euro, or a dirndl for 42.90 euro. You can return your outfit up to 10.00am the following day, or pay half the hire fee for a second day if you want to keep it for longer. The 100 euro deposit also covers you if you fail to return your traditional costume in tip-top condition. But most of the customers are companies that hire from here for events, and take good care of the clothing.

You can rent online all-year-round, and also rent offline for the Oktoberfest period. During the Oktoberfest, there's a small shop at Auenstrasse to serve customers every day, including sundays – with a counter, changing rooms and around 1,200 outfits in stock. There's a choice of around 20 different dirndl styles, and for the men, there are ten lederhosen models combined with shirts in multiple colours and patterns. The lederhosen look high-quality and are a delight to wear, and the dirndls are made from pure cotton in a standard cut. If you need a decent traditional costume for a single Oktoberfest visit, this is the place to come. And it works out cheaper to hire a good traditional costume here than to buy a poor quality one that sits at the back of your wardrobe for ever. You can also hire lederhosen from Wolfgang Zeilinger on the Amalienstrasse, while women will find just the thing at Dresscoded – Abendkleider & Dirndl-Verleih.

Traditional regional dress at the world's biggest men's outfitters Hirmer

The go-to place for business people, tourists and long-standing residents of Munich are the traditional retailers such as Hirmer. Although this fashion house has specialised fully in menswear, there happen to be a few dirndls in the regional dress department. But if you want a big choice of dirndls, Lodenfrey is the place to go. As well as popular lederhosen makers like Meindl there are young traditional dress labels on the hangers such as Amsel and Gottseidank. There's a great choice and the department is so big that you can easily spend an entire afternoon there. Hirmer is deserving of its title as the biggest men's fashion store in the world.

The lowest price for lederhosen starts at 299 euro, or you might choose to invest in a decent pair. And especially with lederhosen, you get what you pay for: Meindl tans and dies according to European regulations – which means that the tanning process in Salzburg takes a year; the colour is brushed on by hand. In addition, the brand uses only goatskin or deerskin in its production. "But deerskin is becoming scarce, which is why it is so expensive," explains Agnes Mayr, who has worked at Hirmer for 15 years and now manages the "Landlust " traditional dress department.

Everything you can buy in the shop is not worn by a tradtional costume club. They have their own tailors.
Agnes Mayr from Hirmer

Ms Mayr has loads of tips for buying traditional dress. An absolute no-go far as she's concerned are neck scarves ("No one wears them these days!") and pulled down socks  ("Pull your socks up!"). Haferlschuhe (traditional Bavarian shoes) should definitely be worn only with lederhosen, never with jeans. And if you want to wear trainers with traditional dress that's fine, just never wear them with traditional dress socks. "If you don't want to spend much money, I recommend simply buying a nice waistcoat, a janker (traditional Bavarian fulled woolen jacket) or a knitted jacket that you can wear anywhere. If you're just visiting the Oktoberfest once, you don't need a full outfit!" she advises. There's no need to be overdressed and feel like the trash of traditional dress. The invaluable thing from fashion houses like Hirmer is definitely the consulting.

 

 

Text: Anja Schauberger, Photos: Frank Stolle

Covid-19: current regulations

Hotels and accommodation establishments, shops, indoor and outdoor catering, and also clubs and discos are open. However, restrictions apply. All other important information on the coronavirus and your stay in Munich can be found here.

A woman and a man in a coat in front of the shop of Eduard Meier in Munich

A visit to the former Purveyors to the Court

We visited the former Royal Bavarian Purveyors to the Court and did some shopping in the old town - from porcelain to perfume.

We visited the former Royal Bavarian Purveyors to the Court and did some shopping in the old town - from porcelain to perfume.

Our author wears a dirndl in the store of Gottseidank in Munich

Vintage Dirndls and Hirschlederhosen

From Second-hand to a traditional store – we made our way through Munich's selection of traditional dress. 

Second-hand, a local label, a traditional store and a hire service – we made our way through Munich's selection of traditional dress.

A man tries on a brown traditional leather shoe

Haferl shoes and Dirndl bags

We visited some traditional shops and young designers in Munich to explore their traditional costume accessories.

It's not just dirndls and lederhosen: We visited some traditional shops and young designers to explore their traditional accessories.

Two women stand in front of three large wooden doors in Munich.

A walk through Glockenbachviertel: Saskia Diez

Munich's districts through the eyes of Munich personalities: This time jewellery designer Saskia Diez shows us her Glockenbachviertel.

Munich's districts through the eyes of Munich personalities: This time jewellery designer Saskia Diez shows us her Glockenbachviertel.

Best place if longing for Italy, Mrs. Wetterich?

The fashion designer Rahmée Wetterich in our questionnaire.

The fashion designer Rahmée Wetterich her sister run the "Noh Nee" label, tailoring clothes that combine both Bavarian and African influences.

Flowerbed at Gärtnerplatz in Munich.

Around the Gärtnerplatz

Shopping far from the major department stores: at Gärtnerplatz and Glockenbachviertel individuality counts. A shopping tour.     

Shopping far from the major department stores: at Gärtnerplatz and Glockenbachviertel individuality counts. A shopping tour.     

A view of a church reflected in a shop window in Munich.

Shopper's paradise

Shopping in an architecturally impressive atmosphere: a stroll through the inner city of Munich.

Shopping in an architecturally impressive atmosphere: a stroll through the inner city of Munich.

View of house facades at Maximilianstrasse in Munich reflected in the shop window of Valentino.

Chic flagship stores and premium brands

The density of international luxury labels in combination with long-established traditional brands is almost unique worldwide.

The density of international luxury labels in combination with long-established traditional brands is almost unique worldwide.

The Hanging Gardens in the Fünf Höfe shopping arcade

Hanging gardens and noble architecture

Explore Munich's elegant designer shops next to cafés, bars and restaurants in an extraordinary shopping ambience.

Explore Munich's elegant designer shops next to cafés, bars and restaurants in an extraordinary shopping ambience.

Pedestrian zone in Munich with one of the two towers of the Frauenkirche in Munich.

Everything under one roof

Anyone who wants to explore Munich's long-established department stores starts the shopping tour in the city centre.

Oberpollinger, Ludwig Beck or Konen – anyone who wants to explore Munich's long-established department stores starts the shopping tour at Karlsplatz-Stachus or Marienplatz.

Munich Card & City Pass

Discover Munich in a relaxed and uncomplicated way: discounts for the diverse range of art, culture and leisure activities with our guest cards.

Public transport is included

Many discounts with the Card, many things for free with the Pass.

Online or at the tourist information offices

Small meeting room of the Neues Rathaus in Munich

Exclusive tour through the town hall

Explore the Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz with an official City of Munich tour guide. A visit of the famous law library is also included!

Book now from 18 €

Magistrates, Monachia and magnificent celebrations: explore the Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz with an official City of Munich tour guide. A visit of the famous law library is also included!

Stage and audience of the Passionsspiel in Oberammergau.

The game of suffering, death and resurrection

The inhabitants of Oberammergau staging probably the world's most successful and largest amateur play. Buy your Tickets here.

The inhabitants of Oberammergau have staged what is today probably the world's most successful and largest amateur play. Buy your Tickets here.

Merchant with dried fruit on the Viktualienmarkt in Munich.

Viktualienmarkt Tasting Tour

Discover the most delicious delicacies of the city and learn all kinds of interesting facts about Munich's most famous food market.

Book now for 32 €!

Discover the most delicious delicacies of the city and learn all kinds of interesting historical facts about Munich's most famous food market.

Panoramic view of the Neues Rathaus in Munich with the Frauenkirche in the background.

Visit to the Town Hall Balcony

Join us on the famous balcony of the New Town Hall, where FC Bayern has celebrated a triumph many times - and enjoy the beautiful view over Marienplatz.

Book now for only 6 €!

Join us on the famous balcony of the New Town Hall, where FC Bayern has celebrated a triumph many times - and enjoy the beautiful view over Marienplatz.