By: Ashley Thompson
The 175th Munich Oktoberfest draws to a close this Sunday, after a 16-day celebration in which six million or so visitors pack into 14 tents, cheerily clinking and chugging over 1.5 million gallons of beer, and noshing on wursts, obatzda (fatty, spiced cheese), and steckerlfisch (fish on a stick — what I can only assume is markedly different than our child-friendly fish stick concoction.)
It’s a time where Bavarian tradition rules, celebrations are jovial, and worries are tossed to the other side of the Alps. Right?
Not so true. The 2008 Oktoberfest featured its own “wardrobe malfunction” of sorts, as it’s becoming increasingly easy to purchase lederhosen and dirndl dresses throughout Munich at a fraction of the former cost. Unlike the traditional garments, these less-expensive duds are made in China, in Eastern Europe, or India, or anywhere that charges less for labor and uses cheaper (and certainly not authentic) fabrics and leather. In essence, a massive market for cheap, tacky versions of traditional Bavarian attire has popped up region-wide.
“Sacrilege!” is what Bavarian purists call it. Hans Lehrer, a member of Munich’s Isargau folk costume society, told Der Spiegl Online, “Folk costumes should be made where they’re worn. I’ve got a problem with imported folk dress because heritage refers to one’s homeland.”
Heavily discounted imports have driven prices down so low that many Bavarian tailors have faced bankruptcy. Today, the number of regional, traditional tailors has been whittled down to less than 100 who are still in business.
There are those who argue that paying top dollar for lederhosen or a dirndl that’s worn only once a year is far too much, and oftentimes, tourists are simply looking for an affordable memento from Oktoberfest to take back home. Lederhosen made by a home-grown Bavarian tailor cost about 600 euros (830 dollars), as opposed to less than 200 dollars for the faux suspendered shorts.
What do you think? Do you think the extra cost is worth it to have the real deal, or would you stick with a “cheaper is better” mentality, especially in the age of crushing conversion rates?
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Photo: Shutterfool via the IT Flckr pool