• 26. - 28. February 2021
  • Messezentrum Salzburg

Masks are trending for Tracht & Country exhibitors

In response to COVID-19, it has become necessary to cover one’s mouth and nose. Reed Exhibitions has talked to three exhibitors of Tracht & Country about how to stay creative during uncertain times.

Written by Verena Raffl, Content & Brand Management 

These days, Ploom Trachten is also lovingly creating face masks

We have seen the face mask in a multitude of colours and designs, with the aim of protecting us and other people from the virus. It soon became clear, however, that the ones we know from the ER are visually not quite that appealing. Designers from all over the world have thus let their creativity shine and have created face masks that do not only protect us, but that are also nice on the eyes. The manufacturing of protective face masks has also picked up in Austria and in the neighbouring state of Bavaria. The local traditional costume industry in particular has come up with very elegant, creative and humorous models. Reed Exhibitions Austria spoke to three exhibitors of Tracht & Country to take a look at the stories behind their dauntless productions.

Considering the zeitgeist

Tanja Pflaum, the owner and soul of Ploom Trachten, usually makes dirndls, a folk costume worn by women, with an astounding eye for detail. These days, too, the dirndl workshop in Salzburg and Munich is busy cutting, ironing, sewing and folding. Not dirndls this time, but face masks: made of 100% cotton, available in colourful fabrics as a single item or as a family set, and environmentally friendly packed in paper. The designer lets the zeitgeist guide her patterns while combining the long-established craftsmanship of traditional dressmaking with current fashion trends. The high-quality fabrics are exclusively sourced from local companies and sewn in Europe. 

Special times call for special measures

Pflaum’s creations stand out with extravagant colour combinations. That is no different for the masks she now makes, where she continues to focus on design and quality. That is reflected in the sales figures and countries of purchase. Pflaum’s customers, who come from Austria, Germany, South Tyrol and Switzerland, are appreciative of the Ploom designs even in times of COVID-19. Initially seeing a staggering 100% drop in sales, her main takeaway of the crisis is that: “Special times call for special measures. Even a crisis has its good sides, and it is important never to lose sight of the positive aspects. Personally, I hope that people will start to rethink their habits and return to buying local.” 

©Litzfelder, Münchner Strickmoden
Giving away free face masks, the traditional Munich knitwear company is prioritising social responsibility.

Münchner Strickmoden sets its sights on social responsibility

The Munich label Litzlfelder has been attracting customers with its slogan “Committed to tradition and quality” for more than 70 years, making the company a mainstay of the traditional clothing industry. The COVID-19 era turned the knitwear company, which is known for fine merino and fleece wool, into a workshop for protective mouth and nose coverings. “The demand was so high that we had to learn to adjust”, said Mariele Litzlfelder to Reed Exhibitions. Incidentally, the head designer of Strickmoden stands by her social obligation. “We gave away a lot of masks to at-risk groups,” she said. In times like these, solidarity is important – an idea that the Munich label as a family-run business feels particularly dedicated to. 

Reinvention in times of corona

Founded in 1938, the company is now placing emphasis on its very survival in addition to its social obligations. Centred on knitwear, the family-run business was suddenly faced with the task of having to reinvent itself, to resort to cotton fabrics and to reallocate personnel resources. Besides inquiring about the classics, customers were starting to place special orders with the Munich knitwear company, such as masks made from shirt fabric for a delivery service, masks for children in bright colours, and masks from lens cleaning cloths for a regional optician. There are no limits to creativity, but functionality is still the main attribute: “We were not able to technically implement every request”, Litzlfelder explained. In this case, it’s protection before fashion. Nevertheless, the Munich-based company is very proud of its traditional fabrics turned stylish masks. And the sales figures have proven Mariele Litzlfelder and her team right.

©Hanna Trachten
Grandma’s traditional fabrics used as face masks by Hanna Trachten

Grandma’s legacy serves as protection during the crisis

Another local example is Hanna Trachten. It is a family business that combines both exotic and self-produced fabrics that are traditionally tailored. The CEO of the family business, Constanze Kurz, talked to Reed about sleepless nights, online shopping madness and initial challenges. It had all begun when she experimented with Grandma’s vintage fabrics. Kurz tried out a few face mask models, put them online and, just one hour later, Hanna Trachten’s world was suddenly and completely transformed.  

Production of 10,000 masks

“Within three days, we had so many orders that we had to work non-stop for three weeks straight.” At a volume of 10,000 masks, that is no wonder. Due to the unexpected rush of orders, the established company struggled at first with inventory that was out of stock, the unknowns of online shopping, scarce or sold out raw materials and their rising prices, long delivery times due to the high demand, followed by the formidable task of putting together an extended team of artists and freelancers with no prior experience. 

Fashion for people with an understanding heart

“Despite long wait times, the many apologies and postponements and, quite frankly, not always the best quality because of initial difficulties, 99% of our customers were remarkably forgiving and understanding, and that was very touching to see,” said Kurz. “We make fashion for people with a kind heart. It is these very people whom I got know through numerous phone calls and during long nights spent answering emails. Hopefully, I will also get to meet most of them personally in the future so that I may show them that we at Hanna Trachten can actually fulfil their every wish.” 

Grandma’s fabrics: a long-kept treasure

Whoever owns a protective face mask made by Hanna Trachten, “has also inherited a piece of my Omi”, as Kurz affectionately calls her grandmother. A lot of hard work and emotions have gone into creating these bits of fabric made from old quilted materials – authentic vintage materials no less. “The fabrics were my very own treasure, which I kept safe for many years and did not want to use for dressmaking. Now it has found what it was meant for. The fabrics are not only pretty but also protect people – that’s a very nice thought,” said Kurz proudly. She runs a tailor shop in Vienna in addition to her bespoke tailoring business in Salzburg.

Oktoberfest cancellation hits industry hard

There is one thing that all exhibitors of Tracht & Country have in common: the cancellation of Oktoberfest. Bavaria’s fifth season as well as the cancellation of folk festivals and traditional events has hit the traditional costume industry very hard. Essential sources of revenue are now missing. “People just really like to buy a dirndl specifically for Oktoberfest”, said Tanja Pflaum. With Oktoberfest now cancelled, and other folk festivals being cancelled too, women no longer have an opportunity to wear a dirndl.” That is one more reason to coin the term “solidarity” anew in times like these. It stands for companies whose employees and customers prove that a crisis can be overcome more easily when banding together.