While living in Germany, you may encounter a phenomenon that is normally seen on a local farm in America: people dressed in Latzhosen– color coordinated in many cases: the blue workers are the carpenters and mechanics, the red workers are the repairmen and montage (installation) crew, and the white workers being the painters and interior designers. They are numerous but skilled; crafty men but also helpful. But these blue-collar workers have one item in common: they all wear these pieces of clothing where they slip them on like snowmobile suits and fasten them at the shoulders- much like in this picture.
When we see the Latzhose, we think of one character in a TV series, who wore them for the entire series, and whose actor still continues to wear them. This would be Peter Lustig from the series Löwenzahn (Dandelion, if translated crudely into English). The series was launched in 1981 and even though Lustig left the series in 2005, it is still running today with Fritz Fuchs at the helm (played by Guido Hammesfahr since 2006). An episode about the Latzhose from the Peter Lustig series was produced in connection with the show’s 20th season episode in 2000, looking at how it is assembled and the many purposes this piece of clothing is used.
Latzhosen exist in the US, under the name Overalls, and like in Germany, they have their purposes, although blue is the most commonly used color for overalls. While travelling through the US, in particular in the central part of the country, one will most likely see them worn by farmers. However, they are sometimes used for casual wear, and for women expecting, they are good for both them and the baby as they are comfortable, and they protect them from the unexpected.
Despite its popularity in both cultures, there is little or no information on when they were introduced, let alone who was behind the invention. There is a possibility that Levi Strauss, a German-born immigrant from Buttenheim (in northern Bavaria) who settled in San Francisco may have something to do with it. Strauss invented the denim blue jeans in 1871 and later established his jeans company with the goal of producing denim jeans mainly for workers. It is unknown whether he invented the overalls, which was common for farmers and railroad workers near the end of the 19th Century. It is known that overalls became common beginning in the 1960s and 70s in the US and in Germany in the 1980s, but only for the purpose of fashion and casual wear. Today, one will see overalls or Latzhosen worn mainly by women as casualwear, whereas the traditional purpose of wearing them for the purpose of work is strong in Germany, while one can find overalls on farm places, on construction sites and along railroads in the US.
Still, the mystery still remains open as to who invented the Latzhose (or overalls). Did Strauss invent them or did someone else patent it? When were they first introduced and what were their primary purpose at that time? And lastly, why did they lose their popularity but make its comeback in the 1970s?
Any ideas? The discussion forum awaits your theories and facts….. 🙂
Note: The birthplace of Levi Strauss was preserved and is now a museum, located in Buttenheim, located north of Bamberg in Bavaria. More information can be found here.