Tracht or Austrian Traditional Costumes - Part II

A "Sommerfrische" vacation in the Salzkammergut, Salzburg or Tyrol became hugely fashionable in the late 19th century. The aristocracy from Vienna loved the hills and lakes - and the traditional clothing. Fashion designers started to draw inspirations from traditional clothing and gave rise to "Trachtenmode". At the same time, academics tried to learn more about genuinely traditional clothing by doing research in it. And soon societies for the preservation of folk culture (many of them with dubious pan-Germanic ideas) popped up.

Two tanners of Salzburg, Josef and Johann Jahn, developed a new technique to dye lederhosen and make them look old and used. The company Jahn-Markl is still big and among the most traditional in Austria′s lederhosen industry. Other designers created new styles of the Dirndl dress. Within a few years, tracht became socially accepted as formal wear, at least in Western Austria. Following the collapse of the Empire in 1918, both Tracht (traditional clothing) and Trachtenmode (fashion inspired by traditional clothing) were not forgotten.

The "Salzburger Trachtenbuch" and similar publications presented all the information about traditional styles. When the Salzburg Festival was first organised in 1920, traditional costumes had found a new catwalk. Many of the artists performing at the festival loved to wear Tracht ensembles. It was the 1920ies that saw the rise of formalised tracht and the establishment of "Tracht dynasties" - many of the most important designers in the scene started in those days.

Current Centres for Tracht & Traditional Wear

Today, Salzburg and the Salzkammergut are the centres of Tracht manufacturing and trade. Other regions that are big in the business are Bavaria, Tyrol, Styria and Carinthia. Authentic Tracht can cost several thousand Euros - nevertheless, dirndl dresses or lederhosen are among the favourite souvenirs from Austria. Tracht specialist boutiques occupy spots in some of the most exclusive shopping areas in Salzburg and Vienna.

A traditional ensemble consists of a large number of items. Men usually wear a lederhosen or a pair of trousers made of loden; a cotton or linen shirt; a loden, linen or whool jacket; a loden or whool coat; and a variety of accessories, from certain kinds of socks to snuff vials, daggers and schnapps hip flasks. Women wear one of two kinds of Dirndl dresses or - usually on the countryside - a skirt and jacket made of loden.

If you want to see proper Tracht, just take a walk through the city centre of Salzburg. If you have a deeper interest, look up the fashion shows of the big design companies - Gmachl, Lanz, Jahn-Markl and others. The best seasons are spring and autumn, when the new designs are presented, as well as the festival time in summer.

Speaking of the Salzburg Festival: Many visitors there will wear extravagant Trachtenmoden designs. The Salzkammergut is a good hunting ground for Lederhosen. And if you would like to see traditional designs in use, go to any countryside village or town on "Fronleichnam" (Corpus Christi) in June. The holiday is celebrated with a procession for which many people wear Tracht.

Return to: "Tracht - Part I"

back to "background"

Further Reading

Heimatwerk Austria (preserves folk culture)

Ministery for Education, Culture and Science (includes folk culture)

Wikipedia on Tracht