The Queen City’s annual rite of spring debauchery, Bockfest, celebrates tapping the season’s first bock beers—which it’s said German monks drank to maintain their strength during Lenten fasts. Bock can give you a real kick in the lederhosen, with average alcohol content of 6 to 8 percent (which puts that “strength” into perspective). If you want to look your best while partaking in the festivities at Bockfest Hall March 4–6, we have good news: You don’t have to go far at all to get dressed up. Wiesnkoenig USA is a little lederhosen and dirndl shop inside Christian Moerlein’s Malt House Taproom (a.k.a. Bockfest Hall), and their clothing is designed to mix seamlessly with your style on non-Bock-Oktober-fest days, too.
The tradition of Alpine women wearing dirndls and men in lederhosen is ages old, but the company is pretty new: Wiesnkoenig debuted in 2006 with the first officially licensed Munich Oktoberfest lederhosen. The store’s name means “king of the Wiesn,” which is the big field where Oktoberfest is held every year. The company has retail shops in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and Cincinnati was picked as the first overseas outpost, thanks to a local connection. Annette Pfund de Cavel, wife of restaurateur Jean-Robert, owns the American store, and her brother, Oliver Pfund, is a Munich-based electronic music producer and marketing consultant for Wiesnkoenig.
But will Americans wear German gear? Sales since the store opened in August 2014 have been great, Pfund says, and they’ve opened up an online shop to extend their reach even further. “We’re trying to show people you can wear it as everyday fashion,” Pfund says. “They’re always somehow playing with little German elements. Like this very cool leather jacket you can wear with a dirndl or jeans.”
The look in the little shop is head-to-toe Bavaria. Pfund reports the biggest sellers during Oktoberfest are goat-leather lederhosen embroidered with bayrisch motifs and dirndl dresses that range from the traditional to the extravagant. The most expensive of the dresses are sewn from beautiful Austrian fabric and bedecked with tiny buttons, each with a scene from a story. And you can top off any outfit with a traditional Tyrolean green felt hat.
“People say, ‘Oh, these are nice costumes,’ but these are not costumes,” Pfund says. “You have them for ages if they’re a quality product.”
Wiesnkoenig USA, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, wiesnkoenig-usa.com