Let’s forget the deceptive comforts of digital daydreaming and get back to our roots. If fashion is a mirror for society, Dirndl dresses and Lederhosen are a valid antidote to global chaos. Behind the scenes of the triumphant revival of alpine couture.
Why is alpine couture enjoying such a terrific revival?
Text by Sylvia Nachtmann – freelance journalist
©Reed Exhibtions Austria / Marco Riebler
Against the global tide: At this year’s Tracht & Country fair the key tenor of the ‘Home of Alpine Lifestyle’ resonates perfectly with the essence of what makes alpine couture so successful.
No-one feels safe anymore – or wants to hear about the problems! Climate change, wars, migration, Trump, Bolsonaro and friends! Rain forests in jeopardy, glacial shrinkage...
It’s natural to seek security and comfort. Emotionally, home – or Heimat, is a safe haven. It’s our antidote to the conflicts of the age, and offers a reassuring contrast to global turmoil. This year, it’s an emotion the Tracht & Country in Salzburg is tapping into. The key tenor of the ‘Home of Alpine Lifestyle’ resonates perfectly with the essence of what makes alpine couture so successful.
Fashion is a mirror to society
So, why has there been such a revival of alpine couture? Fashion may be nothing more than a feeling – but it’s a powerful one. Fashion is an expression of identity, of the spirit of an age. There is no fashion without desire! In an uncertain age, we yearn for romance – to the point of nostalgia. Rather than the illusory comforts of a digital world, we seek durability and familiarity, authenticity and honesty – and a genuine sense of belonging. Old arts, crafts and skills are being reappraised – and symbioses are being established between larger and smaller manufacturers.
Positioning the brand
Is the current buzz around ‘Alpine Styles’ a reaction to global unrest? It’s an almost unanimous opinion. Markus Meindl of Meindl Fashion, based in Kirchanschöring, doesn’t believe so: “Our success is not due to the uncertainty of the times, or because Tracht is a trend, but because we are good at what we do.” In Mr. Meindl’s case, the company doesn’t claim to be ‘Tracht’ or ‘fashion’. It has established itself as a brand: “That’s the position we chose and that is how we are perceived – modern and in-touch.” In fact, “We have done a lot to ensure younger people enjoy fashion more than ever. They are increasingly well-informed and like to make their own decisions.”
Sophistication for generations
Like his fellow manufacturers of alpine clothing, Meindl doesn’t produce disposable fashion. Each item is a sophisticated heirloom that can be worn for generations, and be taken in for repairs and alterations. Meindl’s message is clear: “In the long term, those who don’t provide a service – won’t keep their customers.” Leather, loden, fleeces and cotton are all sourced from “producers we know” in Italy, Austria, Germany and France.” Moreover, “The aura of the materials is generated on the bridge between archaic alpine origins and urban energy.” The corporate philosophy behind the brand is: ‘Be exactly what you claim to be! Don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk!’
A light that shines beyond borders
Tracht, and the lifestyle it nourishes, are powerful antitheses to brittle and short-lived trends. When product, brand and philosophy harmonise, the aura radiates beyond regional borders. That’s something successful, long-serving businesses are well aware of. The concept of ‘Heimat’, freely interpreted, and not subjected to the definitions of single groups, is a living thing – and always will be.