Oktoberfest - ein Fest der Landeshauptstadt München
Photo: Sebastian Lehner

Curious lederhosen facts

Lederhosen: seven little-known facts

No Oktoberfest without lederhosen. For men with an eye for tradition, these pants are virtually a given. Do you know why lederhosen are actually functional clothing? Or that they were once considered immoral? Or even what a man wears underneath his leather pants? Here you fill find plenty of conversation starters for making small talk in any beer tent.

Lederhosen belong to Bavaria — but not only to Germany’s southernmost state

When we think of lederhosen, we inevitably picture Bavaria. And of course it’s true that these type of pants are customary for Germany’s largest state in particular — but it’s not only there. Other Alpine peoples such as Austrians, the Swiss and the inhabitants of South Tyrol happily slip on a pair of lederhosen. So it’s fair to say that leather shorts aren’t simply a Bavarian phenomenon.

Much more than just a fair-weather friend

Maybe it’s a bit excessive to call lederhosen functional, but they are definitely capable of more than most would have you believe. Deerskin is soft and pleasant while also making the pants robust and durable. They protect you from the elements, keep you warm in cold weather, and cool on sunny days. They also adapt particularly well to liquids such as rain or beer. So they are functional after all.

Lederhosen don’t receive the church’s blessing

Lederhosen don’t do much for the Catholic church at least. For that reason, they continue to be taboo during mass in certain churches today. In 1913, the archbishop of Munich even officially declared them “immoral”. Lederhosen tend to be looked on much more favorably these days. You can even get married in them.

The lederhosen industry: a global business

The production of lederhosen is booming around the world. There are many lederhosen factories in India, Hungary or Sri Lanka. The leather used is often sourced in Pakistan or New Zealand. Anyone who wants real deerskin made from regional leather will have to go to a respected traditional costume store and will have to fork out a few extra dollars for it too. But deerskin will last you a lifetime.

Beauty is only skin deep. So what to wear underneath?

This question reflects one of the greatest mysteries of all surrounding lederhosen: do you wear them with or without underwear? Lederhosen should fit snugly and sometimes there really isn’t enough room for underwear, especially not for boxer shorts with oodles of material. Today briefs are a matter of taste, but the story was very different prior to the forties. As a matter of course, men went commando in their lederhosen in those days.

Exit at lederhosen

Curious place names can be found all over, from Brandenburg through to Rhineland-Palatinate. But in Thuringia, the strangest name of all can be found: a village named after lederhosen. The place, which you pass when driving south from Leipzig on the A9 highway has 267 inhabitants, a kindergarten and an industrial park. And a really cool name.

Iconic leather in Hamburg

Lederhosen are also hot in this Hanseatic city. But not in the way you would imagine. We don’t mean the flashy leather outfits that you will inevitably spot on Hamburg’s Reeperbahn. Rather, we are referring to the Hamburg police dog service who can actually be seen sporting leather instead of cotton uniforms.