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[14 comments]

Will lederhosen become the next big thing in fashion?

August 22, 2014

Lederhosen are not just for Oktoberfest anymore. At least that's what Wiesnkoenig, the official supplier of the traditional German pants for the Munich Oktoberfest, is hoping Americans will come to believe now that it has opened its first flagship store in the U.S. inside the Christian Moerlein brewery in Cincinnati.

According to the company's website, "Wiesnkoenig playfully transports traditional elements of Bavarian apparel into everyday life. Worn by young, dynamic and trendsetting people across the fashion capitals of Europe, this high quality fashion inspired by dirndls and lederhosen is coming to the U.S."

"We're not selling costumes to make it look like Germans," Oliver Pfund, a Wiesnkoenig consultant, told The Associated Press. "We want to show people here in the U.S. you can wear the lederhosen with Chuck Taylors, you don't have to wear the suspenders. Or you can wear the dirndl with cowboy boots."

Wiesnkoenig, which operates five standalone stores in Germany and also sells its products in department stores in that country as well as Austria and Switzerland, chose Cincinnati as its entry point into the U.S. because it is a sister city to Munich and also because it is home to the largest Oktoberfest in America. The company doesn't currently offer online orders, but its website says an online shop will be available shortly.

Discussion Questions:

Are modern Americans, particularly teenagers and young adults, more adventurous when it comes to fashion than past generations? Will Wiesnkoenig's modern take on traditional German dress resonate with American consumers?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How likely is Wiesnkoenig's modern take on traditional German dress to succeed in the U.S.?

Comments:

George, it must be Friday and you must be running out of stuff to write about. :) Yes, it's cute, but the first time you show up to work and are soundly mocked by your peers and scowled at by everyone else, you're done.

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Dr. Stephen Needel, Managing Partner, Advanced Simulations

Wow! I never thought I'd see this day come! My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland in the early '50s and I had to learn English in grade school. My mother sent me to school in lederhosen and the teacher sent me home because all the ridicule I received. It left me scarred! To see it all come full circle is amazing.

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Adrian Weidmann, Principal, StoreStream Metrics, LLC

At the risk of offending any lederhosen fans, you've got to be kidding. Lederhosen is a well-accepted part of the Germanic culture and they might sell some to individuals who want it for an event or festival, but for everyday wear Stephen is right, the wearers would suffer a great deal of mocking by associates and scorn by those who didn't know them.

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Steve Montgomery, President, b2b Solutions, LLC

The guy's outfit looks trendy. I hope they don't expect girls to wear that dress. Certainly, trends change, but clothing trends don't typically come out of Cincinnati. I'd introduce it out of San Francisco. He might have more success there.

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Janet Dorenkott, VP & Co-owner, Relational Solutions, Inc.

I can see that this would be a novelty in Cincinnati, which is the sister city of Munich and has a big Oktoberfest, and in the brewery where the lederhosen are to be sold (and which probably features German beer), and maybe, after the first ones buy and wear them, they would become desirable to others (who see them as a novel fashion item paired, as the article says, with Chuck Taylors). The dirndl with cowboy boots may be cute. Ja! Anyway, it's great publicity—it got me going on Cincinnati, Munich, Oktoberfests, beer, lederhosen and dirndls, and the meaning of the word Wiesnkoenig, which I hadn't given a single thought to when I got up this morning.

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Naomi K. Shapiro, Strategic Market Communications, Upstream Commerce

Naaahhh, too much of a softball. Gonna let this one pass.

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Todd Sherman, CMO, Point Inside

My German bride's family all wear lederhosen, from the Opa down to the twenty-something, trendy, downtown-dwelling, professional men. And the women DO wear dirndls, Janet! But they wear them to Oktoberfest—in Munich. I'm just sayin'.

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Ben Ball, Senior Vice President, Dechert-Hampe

Here in Milwauke we believe in beer, gemuetlichkeit, GermanFest, bratwurst, and beer. But I for one don't believe that even those of German heritage want to look like the Toaster Strudel boy, outside of the sort of street festivals that we (and Cincinnati) are known for. Even Bernie Brewer, the team mascot, is usually the only one in our ballpark caught wearing lederhosen.

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Dick Seesel, Principal, Retailing In Focus LLC

The guy in the photo looks fashionable in a runway show style. But those things always make it to a GQ article or a Details takedown. The girl looks like an Oktoberfest waitress.

When I think of lederhosen I think of little Uter from the Simpsons (the roly-poly exchange student who sweats fudge) or Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno in gold lame short-short lederhosen. Even Martin Crane made a comment in one Frasier episode, describing the insane esoteric competitions of his boys Frasier and Niles, along the lines of "If one of 'em got a pair of lederhosen, the other one wanted a pair."

If they make them long and baggy, they might appeal to the folks who wear their shorts 8 inches below the waistline. The suspenders would serve a purpose! And please - NO leather or suede. The younger generation is all about sustainability. Make them out of hemp and there might be a "libertarian" market as well.

Thomas Muscarello, Chief Strategist, Make It Happen Now

The answers are "yes" and "nein." Whatever hope the store has of starting a trend—or at least a fad (see Wednesday's discussion)—is dimmed by the price points: "$37 for a T-shirt to $550 for some dirndls and lederhosen." The former may be dismissed as the typical ridiculously priced tee, but the latter...only something Mad Ludwig could appreciate.

'notcom'

I don't think they're more adventurous than past generations—every generation of teenagers and young adults enjoys challenging the status quo with their garb. Is this one more adventurous than past ones? Perhaps compared with the 1980s. But not the 1970s, or 1960s, or 1920s, or 2000s, or perhaps even the 1990s.

Up here in Portland, Oregon, I expect we'll see a few more facial haired hipsters in Lederhosen. But we already see kilted hipsters playing the bagpipes while riding unicycles. Oh, wait, we see one or two of those in a city of a million. Not really a foundation for a powerful retail presence.

Doug Garnett, Founder & CEO, Atomic Direct

The answer to the question is a resounding "nein."

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Cathy Hotka, Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

There are some industry analysts and BrainTrust members that would look good in lederhosen. The way the new, special/strange younger Millennials are, they will jump on these. They strive to stand out and will wear it if it has been on Facebook. The social network will attack anyone abusing lederhosen wearers. After a few tacky TV/movie or rap singers wear them, then the Mills will follow. A good chunk of the young Mills will follow any trend Hollywood or the internet creates. They obey twitter....

Tom

PS: Estimate that Al picked out this topic...he gets this way on Fridays....

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Tom Redd, Vice President, Strategic Communications, SAP Global Retail Business Unit

Lederhosen have some style. These look like grunge. Think the cargo shorts have a larger plan on the fast fashion scene.

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Roger Saunders, Managing Director, Prosper Business Development

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