It was the German state of Bavaria where lederhosen first appeared as rural wear for men--I think primarily farmers. I have few details on when boys began wearing them, but believe it was the 1920s. As short pants for boys had become common by the 1920s, the lederhosen for boys were mostly the short pants version. Some boys did wear the knickers version, but I think this might have been considered more of a formal version. I think that at first lederhosen were considered primarily an outdoor activity garment. I'm not sure if boys commonly wore them to school or used them for dress wear. They were widely worn by Scouts and other youth groups in the 1920s and by Hitler Youth boys after independent youth groups in the 1930s were "unified" under the Hitler Youth. After World War II, lederhosen were commonly worn by boys. They were worn by Scouts and others engaged in outdoor activities. Some boys would wear them with sports jackets for dressy outfits. The increasing popularity of jeans, however, eventually reduced the wearing of lederhosen. They are still occasionally worn by German boys and Scouts. They are also seen at folk festivals.
It was the southern German state of Bavaria and Austria. Lederhosen first appeared as rural wear for men--I think primarily farmers. In the 18th century when lederhosen first appeared, it was common for men to wear knee breeches rather than long trousers. Trachten as worn in Bavaria and Austria came into being in the 19th century and have changed relatively little since then. In the larger part of Bavaria and Austria men and boys wore leather trousers. They were not regarded as specifically boys' wear. Bavarians wore either kickerbocker style (Bundhosen) or shorts down to the knees, with a rectangular fly (Latz) and always fitted with suspenders (braces). Of course zippers as seen in many scouts' lederhosen today were non-existent at the time.
HBC at this time has only limited information about German chronological trends. We are hopeful that our German readwers will provide more details. HBC does not yet precise details about the chronology of the development of Lederhosen in Germany, but we see German boys wearing them throughout the 20th century. The subject is dealt with on the main lederhosen page. The chronology of lederhosen in general is more or less the same as the German chronology because lederhosen developed in the German state of Bavaria and Austria and are most popular in Germany and Austria. After World War II, lederhosen were commonly worn by boys. They appear to have been very popular with boys in the 1950s and 60s, but began to decline in popularity during the 1970s as boys, especially older boys wanted to wear jeans. They were worn by Scouts and others engaged in outdoor activities. Some boys would wear them with sports jackets for dressy outfits. They came to be worn much shorter than knee-length. Also, many boys stopped wearing braces, at least over their uniform shirt. Zippers were introduced, especially in Northern Germany. Lederhosem declined substanially in popularity during the 1980s by which time they were mostly worn as Scout uniforms or folk events. They have not entirely disappeared as casual wear. While boys would generally not wear them to school. Some boys still wear themmas casual pants at home.
Lederhosen developed as the folk costume of (mountaineous regions) of Bavaria
and Austria. However, I'm not sure if only in Tyrol or in other regions, as
well. For example, a German reader remembers a celebration of the birthday of König Ludwig II (Mad King Ludwig) of Bavaria who built picturesque fairy tale castles. On that event all men and boys (and of course the women and girls, too) wore the Tracht as I described above. It was a solemn and somehow sinister moment, as all participants were rather grave. They had brought torches with them and the band played the Bavarian hymn. (I believe, all Bundesländer have their own hymn.) Lederhosen gradually spread throughout Germany. I'm not sure about the chornology here, but believe that both the Wanfervogel and Hitler Youth were instrumental in popularizing lederhosen in other areas of Germany. Lederhosen were not part of the official uniform of either group, but both strongly promoted folk culture. While lederhosen spread to other areas of Germany, they continued to be worn more commonly in Bavaria than other parts of Germany. We note that many images of German schools show a few boys wearing lederhosen while in Bavaria sometimes a substantial numbers of boys wear them. They still continue to be more popular in Bavaria than other areas of Germny as lederhosen in recent years have increasingly become worn as folk costume rather than regular boys clothing.
We suspect that Ledehosen were mostly worn in rurl areas here they originated. As German industrialized and people migrated to cities where relatively good-paying jobs were becoming available, this appears to have changed and Lederhosen began to be worn in urban areas. This may have begun to be a factor uin boys wear around the turn of the 20th century. We think that German parents nostalgic for their rural root began to dress thei boys in Lederhosen. We are not entirly sure about the time-line here. Thus differences between urban and rural trends may have closed. Here we are not yet sure and this topic needs to be persued in more detail.
Leder is the German word for leather and lederhosen are wimply leather pants. Trachtenhosen worn on formal occasions were and are made of expensive chamois or deerskin. The basic Lederhosen made for German boys were made from less expensive leather. Daily wear lederhosen (both longs and shorts) are made of cowhide, which is less expensive and much more resistant. This made for areasonably priced and duravle garment for boys. Some pants were made in Lederhosen-style, usually meaning with a haltar. They were made with a variety of cloth materials. These were for younger boys and not considered as true Lederhosen by many because they are not leather. HBC has noted these lederhosen-style pants in the 1970s, but we are unsure to what etent they were made before the 1970s.
A European source reports that he has noted accounts that knickers came first and shorts were derived from them as a daily wear alternative at work, but he doubts those accounts He believes that shorts have been worn all along, possibly depending in part on the area. Late in the 19th century shorts were deemed indecent by the increasingly proper Victorians. The Catholic Church forbade Bavarian farmers to wear them in processions. A HBC reader postulates, "This in my opinion suggests that shorts were part of the 'Sunday best' attire in times before." Attitudes toward shorts change in the early 20th century. One major influence were the youth groups that were becoming increasingly popular throughout Europe. Baden Powell had adopted shorts for the new Scout movement. Germany's Wandervogel also wore shorts--often cord shorts. Many Wandervogel boys also wore lederhosen. (The Wandervogel is described in some detail in the HBU Youth Uniform satellite site.) We do not notice knickers-length Lederhosen prominately in the historical record until the 1960s.
Lederhosen were not initially, nor have they ever been an exclusively boys' garment. As lederhosen began to be commonly worn by German youth groups, however, they began to be very commonly worn by boys in Bavaria. I have few details on when boys began wearing them, but believe it was the 1920s. As short pants for boys had become common by the 1920s, the lederhosen for boys were mostly the short pants version. Some boys did wear the knickers version, but I think this might have been considered more of a formal version. HBC still has incomplete information on lederhosen as boys wear. Younger boys do not appear to have commonly worn lederhosen in Germany until after World War II. Clothing advertisements suggest that by the 1960s they had become a popular boys' style. They were often worn with ginham or plaid-like shirts. Some short pants were made with lederhosen styling in other materials. Leerhosen have always been considere male garb. HBC notes that in the 1970s, lederhosen were also made for girls.
Early in the 20th century lederhosen appear to have been restricted to Bavaria and Austria. Even in Franconia/Frankenland (today forming the northern part of Bavaria) and in neighbouring Baden-W�rtemberg
trousers, even if of the same cut as in the South, were made of cloth, and the same holds true for parts of Austria East of the Alps. Then leather lederhosen began to be seen as typically German even in the North and East, way up to Silezia and Prussia were hitherto they had been unknown. But only the daily wear type of lederhose, made of the cheaper and stronger varieties of leather, made it that far. When wearing Trachten, people there held on to their traditional garments. The increasing popularity of youth groups played an important part in the spreading popularity of lederhosen.
There are a variety of other clothing associated with Lederhosen. Some items are part of folk dress. As Lederhosen became an item worn with regular and not just folk dress we see various items being worn that were not part of traditional folk dress. Some are other items of Alpine or folk dress. These include Alpine caps and Bavarian jackets. The halter might be considered as an essential part of the Lederhosen themselves. Here the kind of calf cuff worn rather than kneesocks is another Folk item. These are items that were widely worn by the late 19th century. Other clothes have been worn with Lederhosen. These tend to be more clothing items. Perhaps the best known are the colorful check or plaid shirts that became popular after World War II. Hosiery varied. When not wearing the calf cuff, kneesocks were commonly worn with Lederhosen. We also notice boys wearing tights with Lederhosen.
More an more boys were joining youth groups like the Scouts and Wandervogel. Both had conceived of short pants with kneesocks as comfortable practical garments for outdoor activities. It was only natural that such a tough garment as leather lederhosem requiring almost no maintenance would be adopted by many of the membders of these groups. Lederhosen were in fact widely worn by Scouts and other youth groups in the
1920s and by Hitler Youth boys after
independent youth groups in the 1930s were "unified" under the Hitler
I think that at first Lederhosen were considered primarily a work or an outdoor activity garment. They were worn by men and boys in the Bavarian country side in the days before work clothes like dungarees or jeans existed. By the late 19th and early 20th cenbtury they had become Bavarian folk costume. Youth groups like Wandervogel found them wonderfully practical for hiking and camping. They were also worn by boys in other youth groups like the Scouts and Hiter Youth. Boys began wearing them to school. They were also ideal play clothes. Lederhosen were, however, not just casual clthes. Many boys would weat them for dress occasions, usually with Bavarian style jackets. They were particularly popular after Worl War II through the 1970s. By the 1980s, they declined in popularity and are bow mostly worn by Scouts or for folk occassions.
We do not yet have a separate German page for Lederhosen halters. Almost all of the images we have found for our general Lederhosen page are German. And the information developed is primarily about Germany. We do not know of any differences pertaining to the halters differentiating the various countries such as Germany nd Austria where Lederhosen were worn. So until we learn of such duifferences, we will just build ine general Lederhosen haltr page. If readers know of any country differences we would be interested in hearing from you.
We note some families with all or most of the boys dressed in Lederhosen. This was at a time when mother mafe the clothing purchases with little or no input fom the children. Thus we see manu familiescwith identical or coordinated clothing. One German reader has written us me describing how during the 1960s he didn't like Lederhosen, but his brother did. Before the 60s, however, boys until into their teens had relatively limited input into their clothing. Thus we do see families with all or most of the boys wearing Lederhosen. This of course varied from family to family. Not all mothers believed in dressing the children alike, but quite a feww did. And Lederhosen were one of the choices. Different mothers had varying fashion attitudes. Three were also regional and demographic differences. There were also social-class differences affecting both tastes and family income levels. Leferhosen as they were leather were relatively expensive. These factors all affected family choices. We do not understand how these factors played out to be able to assess the families that we see with the children wearing Lederhosen.
It is a mistake to think that it was the NAZIs who took a lead in propagating lederhosen as a kind of "national" garment though many NAZIs certainly found it a convenient way of stressing their nationalist feelings. The Wandervogel movement (boys and young men that were an early German equivalent of the Boy Scouts) had already started wearing them. A European reader reports, "One of my grand-uncles left Austria for Africa after the Anschluss (German takeover of Austria). On a picture taken aboard the vessel his boys aged 7 to 18 are all wearing lederhosen. By 1937 lederhosen had become the common garment by youth group members in Austria and Germany.
Lederhosen have been worn in Germany, beyond Bavaria, since the 1920s. It is difficifult to assess their popularity during the 1920s and 30s. They do not appear to have been rare. HBC has noted numerous images of boys wearing lederhosen. Lederhosen appear to have been very popular in Germany during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. As far as I can tell, they were garments that boys asked their mother to purchase for them. Hopefully our German readers can add some insights here. In Eastern Germany the stayed popular until the 1980s. Gradually jeans replaced lederhosen as casual wear. Boys wanted to wear jeans rather than Ledershosen, although Lederhosen have not disappeared. Nowadays lederhosen are rare, except for Scouts or folk events. Today in Germany, a boy would be unlikely to wear lederhosen to school or for play. They might be worn for dressing up, probably mostly in Bavaria. For the most part they are not garments that many German boys would ask their parents to purchase.
One HBU contributor tells me that he was stationed in Europe (mostly in Germany--Bavaria) and Austria in the U.S. Army from early 1946 through 1948. During that time, most of the boys wore lederhosen shorts. He was friendly with several German families and
one of the daughters from one of these families married a G.I. He was
their best man at the wedding . This family had three brothers ages 8,
12 and 16 and all wore lederhosen to school and he hardly never saw them in any other fashion. Could have been hard times since Germany was still recovering from the war. German readers have also provided us some accounts of their personal experiences. The increasing popularity of jeans, however, eventually reduced the wearing of lederhosen.
Lederhosen are still occasionally worn by German boys and Scouts. They are also seen at folk festivals. The lederhosen is generally a folk costume of (mountaineous regions) of Bavaria and Austria. However, I'm not sure if only in Tyrol or in other regions, as
well. The men and boys wore in general a short lederhosen, usually with a halter in
flower design (or another motive) , greyish-green half stockings and a white
shirt. Some of them wore a heat with a Gamsbart or a bird feather. The colours
ranged from black to white, sometimes beeing more grey and sometimes brown.
The costume has become very popular abroard, and not many people believe it is
"the" German costume. Today it is only worn on folkloristic events and there a special shops were you can buy the Tracht and associations, which want to save the tracht costume for further generations to come.
One German reader complains that there ar far too many garment sold as Lederhose that are not in fact true ederhosen. He explains that the real ones had to be made of deer skin--at least that was an ideal. They also needed suspenders with a deer-horn-carving of a jumping deer or the head of a deer in the middle of the chest. But from about age 13 onwards a halter was prefered and considered more sportive. Often Lederhose in a family were worn by several boys and handed down to the next younger boy when he outgrew them. They should never be washed, and after several years of use by three or four boys the bottom looked like black iron, and this was enhanced by often gliding down an steep earthy slope. This finally became the true Lederhose. Lederhose in the 1930s-50s were worn until the age of 25 or older, often by tough boys with a spirit of adventure, the blacker the bottom, the more adventurous or even wilder the boy was.
Lederhosen through the 1960s were commnly worn as boys know where jeans. Boys often wore them for hikes in the coubtryband they were popular with the Wandervogel, Hitler Youth, and Scout groups. There now appaer in films as more of a folk costume. They are most commonly scene in German and Austrian films, but they were also worn in other areas of Europe.
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