From festival dress to country style
25 towns and villages – one common occasion wear: the Ziller Valley ʻTrachtʼ is a cultural treasure of this Tyrolean valley and a staple outfit for good times and bad. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is – be it a wedding or a funeral- you are dressed perfectly appropriately when wearing this traditional occasion wear. However, there are strict guidelines for ʻTrachtʼ which must be adhered to as Mayrhofen’s master tailor, Franz Knauer, explains.
From ʼLederhosenʼ to braces
For more than 50 years the men’s fashion and ʻTrachtʼ shop Knauer has been a favourite haunt of customers of traditional fashion, ʻLederhosenʼ etc. In the heart of Mayrhofen, the display windows are wonderfully eye-catching: a mixture of traditional suits and ʻLederhosenʼ as well as fashion clothing. And that’s not forgetting the accessories including many different hats (specially designed for Ziller Valley ʻTrachtʼ), socks and braces. On entering the shop, we receive a warm welcome from ‘Tracht’ expert Franz Knauer..
A passion for ʻTrachtʼ
For 20 years Franz Knauer has practiced his passion in his shop in Mayrhofen. His love of ʻTrachtʼ was practically bred into him from birth: ʺMy father was a tailor of men’s fashion and opened the shop over 50 years ago. 20 years ago he gave me, not only his tailor’s shop, but also his passion for tailoringʺ. Franz Knauer explains to us the main reason why he loves his job: ʺI am able to contribute to keeping an old tradition- ʻTrachtʼ – alive!ʺ
Unique Features of Ziller Valley ‘Tracht’
The Ziller Valley is the only valley with a uniform occasion wear – the Ziller Valley ʻTrachtʼ – and they are proud of it: ʺWhatever the occasion we Zillertalers can always be recognised by our clothingʺ. The extensive Ziller Valley ʻTrachtʼ has unique features and consists of multiple items:
- Grey loden jacket– so-called ʻLodenrockʼ or ʻJankerʼ: The material comes from a weaving mill in the Ziller Valley.
- Vest of fine red loden with edging in green, silver and gold – very eye-catching compared to the ʻTrachtʼ of other regions!
- Black ʻTrachtenkniehoseʼ kneelength trousers: made from a wool called ʻFustianʼ or ‘Devil’s skin’
- White, kneelength socks
- Black, ankle-high ʻTrachtʼ shoes (not brogues!)
- White collared shirt
- Black tie tucked in between the shirt and the red vest.
- Only by adding the hat with an eye-catching white feather and colourful flowers is the outfit complete.
The casual ʻTrachtʼ includes the loden jacket, black gilet, black trousers, white shirt, black tie and ʻplushʼ hat! Of course, the ‘Ranzenʼ – an embroidered belt – must also always be worn!
Strict Rules of the ʻTrachtʼ Dresscode
The term Ziller Valley ʻTrachtʼ was first used in the 18th century and this original outfit remains almost unchanged today. ʺAlthough there are always new trends in ʻTrachtʼ, this hasn’t affected the ʻTrachtʼ of the Ziller Valleyʺ, says the tailor who is explaining the rules to us: ʺif you are going to wear ʻTrachtʼ, you have to wear it properly with hat, ‘Ranzen’ (belt) and all the trimmings. I once saw a man wearing a ‘Lodenrock’ (jacket) with normal jeans – that is a travesty for any ʻTrachtʼ tailor! The same goes for various outfits modelled on the Ziller Valley ʻTrachtʼʺ explains Franz Knauer.
Background of ʻTrachtʼ Clothing
So what is the importance of ʻTrachtʼ clothing in the Ziller Valley? ʺIn the Alps every county, every town and every village has its own ʻTrachtʼ. It is a part of the community’s identity and representative of their cultureʺ, emphasises Franz Knauer. In recent years a particularly welcome trend has seen ever more young people enjoying wearing ʻTrachtʼ – not only traditional ʻTrachtʼ but also ʻLederhosenʼ, ʻDirndlʼ (female dress) etc. ʺIt’s a great when young people want to continue the tradition…ʺ.
From Design to the Finished Product
During a tour of the men’s fashion and ʻTrachtʼ shop we learn more about the design process of ʻTrachtʼ. The tailor explains the individual steps; ʺFirst the customer is measured, then the material is cut. In the workshop below I sew the material together. Finally, the product is finished and pressed.ʺ However simple it might sound, lots of hard work, flair and finesse are involved. And this skilled handcraft continues, despite tailors no longer having the important role that they once had: ʺNowadays, in the clothing industry, there are normal sizes, in-between sizes and the right outfit for every figure.ʺ says Franz Knauer.
From Ziller Valley ʻTrachtʼ to ʻLederhosenʼ
Of course, a pair of ʻLederhosenʼ is a staple of the wardrobe of every Zillertaler. ʺNowadays, ʻLederhosenʼ are not as common in Mayrhofen as in other areas. As a small boy I always wore my ʻLederhosenʼ – whether I was in the park or at school. Times have changedʺ, reminisces Franz Knauer. Although he currently doesn’t own a pair himself – he has ʺoutgrownʺ his last pair but will get himself a new pair – he knows the rules for ʻLederhosenʼ inside out: ʺʻLederhosenʼ are for living inʺ, so goes the saying, ʺand wearing ʻTrachtʼ is associated with good times. In my 40 years as a ʻTrachtʼ-wearing member of the town band, I can vouch for that!ʺ laughs Franz Knauer.