When many of us think of Bavaria images of Oktoberfest spring to mind; dirndl clad ladies serving steins of beer and oompah bands set the tone for the stereotypical perception of traditional Alpine culture. But beyond the tourist track, a tradition of craftsmanship and quality permeates the Tyrolean region. Those who are willing to dig a little deeper will discover a vibrant culture where old world quality meets a more modern aesthetic. This combination of contemporary style and tradition is exemplified by Loden wool outerwear.
The strong yet supple fabric of Loden wool was developed centuries ago with one purpose, to keep the (MOUNTAIN) herdsmen warm and dry through winter. The fibers from their sheep were woven and then rigorously worked in a wet finishing process. This technique is what gives Loden wool wear its unique durability and strength.
The most recognizable garment produced from the fiber is the Styrian jacket, which many Americans won't know by name, but would surely recognize. This classic look for men was originally worn by peasants in the Austrian province of Styria and was popularized by the Archduke Johann in the early 19th century. The clean and classic jacket was also worn by Christopher Plummer in his role as Captain Von Trapp in the Sound of Music. The Styrian jacket has seen a resurgence of popularity across Europe in the last several years, being paired with everything from formal wear to denim.
Taking a look at the outerwear available today, it would be easy to assume that synthetic fabrics and sprayed on coatings are needed to provide adequate protection from the elements. Yet, many of us prefer to reduce the use of noxious chemicals in the manufacture of these garments. Natural fibers are not only more environmentally friendly in production, but gentler on the skin of the wearer. Unfortunately, most cottons and wools just don’t cut it when it comes to heavy rain and snow. This is where Bavarian boiled wool pieces really shine. The methods of making these coats has been perfected over centuries of practice in the Tyrolian Alps.
Loden wool wear is both a high performance and luxury fabric. The density of the weave provides protection comparable to any synthetic blend, while maintaining the elegance of a high quality garment wool.
The traveler wearing a Loden jacket is knowledgeable of clothing culture beyond what's trendy. He values quality and knows how to invest in the best the world has to offer. It is this kind of customer these woolens are made for. Someone who appreciates the traditional technique of the craftsman, will surely treasure these garments as uniquely rooted to history and heritage.
Loden wool outerwear is not the kind of jacket to buy for one season of wear. The variety of styles produced, from the traditional Styrian jacket to contemporary funnel-necked coats, are all intended to be timeless. These pieces will have a place of honor in your wardrobe for decades to come. When cared for properly, Loden wool can easily become an heirloom, passed down to the next generation. It is this feature above all others that makes authentic boiled wool garments worth the investment. A Loden coat is a true part of Bavaria, far beyond the kitsch costumes so many associate with the region.