Salzburg. Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses are a part of Salzburg – just like Mozart and the Salzburg Festival. In their interview with La Loupe, Stefan Wimmer and Georg Klampfer prove that modern age and tradition can coexist quite peacefully here. Stefan Wimmer represents the 9th generation of the traditional costume manufacture “Wimmer schneidert” in Schleedorf. And Georg Klampfer has initiated a new hype around lederhosen in the city of Salzburg by organising the so-called “LederhosenDonnerstag” or LederhosenThursday. His goal: bringing traditional costume back into everyday life. In their interview with La Loupe the two talk about their individual approaches to traditional costume and let us know how many pairs of lederhosen they have in their closets.
Mr Wimmer, “Wimmer schneidert” was founded in 1741 and is now family-run in the ninth generation. What has remained the same and what has changed since 1741?
One aspect that has remained unchanged across the centuries is the regional focus. We still try to find regional suppliers for our collections, and we try to buy loden and linen from the region. And the fact that we are a family-run individual business has not changed.
Was the family business only ever handed down to one person?
Yes. And we also stayed true to our production site in Schleedorf. I think it’s an advantage to be located in a small village – that makes us an insider tip for many. At the same time we do, of course, profit from the vicinity to Salzburg. The people of Salzburg have always been fond of traditional costume.
Are most of your customers at “Wimmer schneidert” from the region?
No, we have many international clients, too. Everything we make is custom-made. Sometimes we also get request from customers who can’t come to us because they’re too far away. Like an order from a bride-to-be who lives in Rostock and fell in love with one of our Drindl dresses. She did not want to get married without that dress! So, what we did is we tailored it to her measurements, talked on the phone, exchanged pictures. We don’t just mail the Dirndl and think: it’ll be alright. We want the client to look amazing in her new Dirndl and to enjoy it for a long time.
Many collections feature classics that never lose their popularity. Would you say that traditional costume also knows a certain masterpiece that has outlasted the centuries?
Yes, I think so, actually. When it comes to lederhosen, the cut is a classic – sometimes they’re a bit shorter, sometimes a bit longer. And the deerskin which was tanned using original processes as well as the stitching and patterns are all traditional elements. There are many things that have been the way they are today for 100 or 150 years. And a Dirndl dress is always made up of a bodice, so a tight top, and a skirt, which would sometimes be flowing and sometimes be pleated. The colours and necklines change, but basically it has remained the same for centuries.
Georg, when did you get your first pair of Wimmer lederhosen?
When I was 19 years old I got my first tailor-made pair of lederhosen. It was a gift after I’d finished my A-levels and I still wear it. The very first pair of Wimmer lederhosen I had was a hand-me-down from my cousin though. I think I was six years old when I got it. And before me it probably belonged to my uncle (laughs). For me it was always natural that I had lederhosen. At least one pair.
By introducing LederhosenDonnerstag in Salzburg you managed to make traditional costume hip again. How did you pull that off and what was the idea behind it?
Honestly, there really wasn’t much of an idea behind it. (laughs) I simply enjoyed wearing my lederhosen. My LederhosenDonnerstag partner, Christian Eibl, once said to me that he really likes the fact that I wear my lederhosen to work, too. Worn with a jacket they really work well in the office. And he also wanted to wear his lederhosen more often and in everday life – not just at weddings and village fairs. Which is why we initated LederhosenDonnerstag. And I think what we’re doing is that we’re giving people who would usually not dare to wear lederhosen during the week a good opportunity to do so. And then, when somebody on the street asks: Hey, how come you’re wearing lederhosen? Then you can say: Today is LederhosenDonnerstag. (laughs) The success really took us by surprise. And I think one of the reasons it was so successful is that it wasn’t some company’s marketing gag. It was just two dorks who put on lederhosen every Thursday and had fun doing so. (laughs)
Mr Wimmer, is there a clear line that divides everyday traditional costume and traditional costume for special occasions?
There has been a lot of change in that particular area in the past years. Traditional costume has become much less complicated – and I’m sure LederhosenDonnerstag had its part in that. Nowadays you can wear a traditional jacket with lederhosen or jeans.
And that’s the cool thing: you can mix and match in both directions. I can wear a festive jacket with jeans or lederhosen with a polo shirt – it all works. I really, really like that. And on LederhosenDonnerstag it’s not about owning handmade deerskin lederhosen. It’s about celebrating traditional costume together. And when you’re wearing traditional garb everything is simply more fun.
And how popular is traditional garb at the Salzburg Festival?
At Jedermann it’s tradition for many guests to come in traditional costume, men will even wear short lederhosen. For the opera premieres you wear long garments, a festive Dirndl dress or long lederhosen.
How many pairs of lederhosen do you own?
I have five, but there are only two or three that I actually wear. They’re the handmade ones – they simply fit the best. Once you get a proper pair of lederhosen that was tailor-made for you it simply works – at every occasion and for the rest of your life. I think lederhosen are for a man what a Chanel handbag is for a woman.
I have three short pairs and a pair of long lederhosen.
How long do you have to wear a pair of lederhosen until they’re really comfy?
Well, you’ll need to wear them a few times. Today’s lederhosen are softer to begin with, though, the tanners make sure of that. So, if you wear it three times it’ll already be much softer. And after a year it’ll be super soft and supple.
What characterises a pair of Salzburger lederhosen?
The “Salzburger” really is our most popular lederhosen model. The decorative stitching at the back and the light stitching in general are its main features.
How long does one usually have to wait for a pair of Wimmer lederhosen?
When have a pair of lederhosen made with us it usually takes about eight to nine weeks for the handmade ones. And I’d say most people can wait that long. Plus, a bit of anticipation is nice, right?
Wordrap Stefan Wimmer:
1741 oder 2019?
A pair of short, handmade lederhosen.
What I’ll pass on to the 10th generation.
Craftsmanship and skill.
The biggest misconception about lederhosen.
That you can only wear them on special occasions.