Lederhosen return and all Bavarians simply must have a pair
Sunday 02 November 1997
Mr Lipah, in case you haven't guessed, is seriously into lederhosen. He has been buying them for 20 years, stocks 3,500 pairs in his Royal Bavarian Lederhosen-Madness shop, and tends his own "antique" collection of lederhosen cornucopia with loving care. "Look at this stitching," he sighs, fingering the chamois underpants which had once belonged to Kaiser Franz Josef's chief forester.
He stocks the shoes, the braces, felt hats, linen shirts and the silverware that go with lederhosen. The old lederhosen that are beyond repair are recycled, to his design, into waistcoats, with the help of 19th-century flour sacks. In Munich Mr Lipah is known as the "Versace of lederhosen". Yes, he admits, it's something of an obsession, but cuckoo he is not.
"We are witnessing the renaissance of lederhosen," he says. Today's Bavarians are rediscovering the traditions of old, down to the dark brown ale drunk by their grandfathers. The young feel drawn again to the music of the Alps - with or without the yodelling - and even to the clothes worn by their ancestors. In this cultural milieu, lederhosen have become chic, de rigueur for glitterati and politicians alike.
But not just any old lederhosen. When Lothar Matthaus, the captain of Bayern Munich, turned up for last year's Oktoberfest in his brand new Bavarian outfit, he might just as well have been wearing a shell suit. Virgin leather is naff, he was informed by his mates, before being bundled into a taxi heading for Mr Lipah's shop.
This is the only place to get the fashionable greasy garments. At Mr Lipah's there is a sign displayed in the window boasting that it is "the last lederhosen shop before the autobahn". That is where the footballer got his, or where the two male models who flanked Cindy Crawford at the opening of the Munich branch of Planet Hollywood were kitted out earlier this month.
Mr Lipah's business has taken off. He sells a pair of lederhosen with that worn-in look for anything up to DM2,000 (pounds 700). A full kit, with hat and all, will fetch about DM12,000 (pounds 4,256). The price depends on the age of the garment, the decorations, the origins and the material. Pigskin is rare, because it is practically unwearable. At the bottom end of the market is cowhide, worn by peasants. The middle class go for elk skin, which is thick but soft. The Mercedes of lederhosen are made from deerskin.
The embroidered silk motifs identify the village of origin, and design has varied slightly down the ages. Short lederhosen, for instance, are invariably post-war.
But all good lederhosen have what Mr Lipah describes is the "Bavarian air-conditioning" effect. "They keep you warm when it's cold, and cool when it's hot." The garment's high back protects the kidneys, the grease repels water. They last for ever, and they are very practical. "You don't need to clean them, or at least no more than once every two or three years."
There is no way of assessing that claim, but the Independent on Sunday nevertheless submitted a pair, which were 80 years old and made in the village of Tegernsee, to rigorous tests. Here are the findings, with marks out of 10:
Design: 8. Great entertainment value.
Comfort: 7. Damp, cold and a little rough on the crotch
Convenience: 4. Can be a bit tricky to peel off in haste
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...