Oktoberfest - ein Fest der Landeshauptstadt München
Photo: Sebastian Lehner

The lederhosen renaissance

Lederhosen madness: 3,000 pieces in Munich’s Borstei neighborhood

Some collect stamps, others collect fridge magnets or classic cars. Munich native Herbert Lipah collects lederhosen. He has over 3,000 pieces on offer. Crazy? We think so! ‘Lederhosen madness’ to be exact!

Come rain or shine: lederhosen

Herbert Lipah’s enthusiasm for lederhosen seems to be innate. The local of Munich-Pasing can’t remember wearing anything else before the age of 15. And clearly he was not the only with a fondness for such clothing. Throughout his circle of friends and acquaintances, the short cowhide lederhosen were passed down from big brother to little brother, and neighbor to neighbor. His granny sewed long socks which could be clipped to the top of his lederhosen, meaning he could wear the mighty pants even in winter. The sixties changed everything — even if it was only temporarily. Jeans and cord trousers replaced lederhosen for a time. The era in which the only visitors to Oktoberfest were those from the highlands, where members of traditional costume clubs and musicians in lederhosen were seen, are Greek to Herbert Lipah today. But much to his delight, lederhosen made a real comeback in the eighties.

Slip into some slim jims

Today, Lipah runs his ‘Lederhosen-Wahnsinn’ [lederhosen madness] store in Munich’s Borstei neighborhood. He not only has more than 3,000 lederhosen on offer, but he also has a rich assortment of traditional accessories and historical jewelry which will no doubt make the hearts of collectors soar. Lipah’s private collection contains old, traditional lederhosen that are up to 150 years old, including a pair of sheer, fine lederhosen owned by Duke Max of Bavaria, the father of Empress Sissi, and an ultra-fine pair of leather pants weighing only 320 grams that may have been worn by King Ludwig II. This unique collection was kick started in 1982 when Herbert Lipah’s neighbor encouraged him to sell the treasures from her basement at a local fair and to share the profit with her. It included a pair of lederhosen that Lipah immediately recognized as having true historical value. And he was proven right. “And then I saw an old pair of lederhosen hanging on the wall and straight away I had goosebumps. I simply felt drawn, the pants beckoned to me. I immediately knew that they were around 100 years old. Now I know that the pair dates back to 1880. The pants are displayed in my store.”

Natural born seller

But the sale served a different purpose for Herbert Lipah than that anticipated by his neighbor. He informed visitors to his stall that he was on the lookout for old lederhosen. After an hour, an older lady brought him a second-hand pair made from deerskin that he was able to sell at a profit a few moments later. Lipah bought a total of 350 pairs of lederhosen at that sale and resold 128 of them immediately. He still has the ledger — and his passion remains as strong as ever. He has a story to tell about almost every pair of pants in his store. Perfect for visitors who have a little time to spare, as these stories are part of the company’s philosophy and make a visit to the store that extra bit special.

How many pairs of lederhosen does one man need?

Herbert Lipah has a definite answer to that question. “He needs exactly one pair of trousers and if he wants more, he can buy another couple of pairs. And if he is totally cuckoo for lederhosen, well you can see the results for yourself: 2,500 lederhosen on sale, 650 collectables, and another 1,000 in storage.” His love for leather pants is so great that he is generously willing to ignore fashion fails at Oktoberfest. For him, the overall image of color, and the fact that lederhosen now firmly have their place at Oktoberfest are what matters the most.