MOOSACH - Looking embarrassed, the customer pulls down his pants. Standing there in his underpants and shirt he tries to climb into a pair of Lederhosen as fast as he can. Welcome to "Lederhosenwahnsinn" – which translates into Lederhosen Madness -- Herbert Lipah’s second-hand store. It doesn’t have a changing room but does offer a selection of 2,500 pairs of vintage Lederhosen. In front of the store in Moosach, 8 km (5 mi) outside Munich, Germany, is a sign that reads: “Last Lederhosen store before the Autobahn."
Inside, thongs with smutty texts printed on them hang from the ceiling. A postcard selection containing more than a few naked women lines the walls. And in the middle of all this is Herbert Lipah himself, barefoot and shirtless, wearing Lederhosen of course and serving his many customers. "You should buy those, they look good," he calls to one customer. "I’ll take your wife in exchange," he jokes. He gets another customer a cold beer from the fridge of the crowded small general store.
Some people call Lipah a nutter. Others (including the man himself) say he is simply an authentic Munich Original. Known for his snappy line of patter, Lipah claims he’s done a lot for the area. “All the people walking around in traditional Bavarian clothes, that’s down to me,” he says.
When Lipah opened "Lederhosenwahnsinn" 17 years ago, locals were giving it three months before it went out of business. Now a lot of those skeptics have become customers. But Lipah couldn’t survive on what locals bring in, and luckily he doesn’t have to: the store has become a cult destination for the dramatically increasing numbers of fans of the traditional Bavarian leather shorts, gays, tourists. The lead-up to Oktoberfest is a peak time of year.
Lipah buys new, old, long, short, light and dark brown, mended and even very worn Lederhosen. Arranged on hangers by size, they are not price-tagged but he knows just by looking at a pair what he wants for them – between 200 and 2000 euros. The older they are, the higher the price. The oldest pair dates back to 1817. On sight, Lipah can tell you exactly where a pair of Lederhosen comes from, how old it is and what it’s worth. Many people bring him old pairs hoping he’ll buy – some are refused, others are real collectors’ items dating back to grandparents and discovered in an attic somewhere.
But Lipah is not only a collector and store owner, he’s an inventor: of the “First Royal Bavarian Calf Implants.” The idea came to him because he says in his line of work he meets many men with serious self-esteem issues due to their skinny shanks.
Today, he exports what he calls his “kind of wonderbra for men” to far-away places – including Scotland – so men everywhere who lack the bulging calf muscles it takes to bring off a pair of Lederhosen (or a kilt) with full panache don’t have to miss out. All they have to do is slip one of Lipah’s foam rubber patented pads into each knee sock.
Read the full article in German by Lisa Sonnabend
Photo - holmanphoto