Munich, Germany is a city filled with renaissance buildings, color and people who dressed in the latest trends. It seems as though every person is outfitted with at least one luxury item; a fitted trench coat, skinny jeans and white sneakers. Sitting in one spot in the city square, I see a Louis Vuitton scarf, an Yves Saint Laurent cross body purse here, a Gucci fanny pack there. Not a pair of sweatpants or leggings in sight.Why It’s Newsworthy: The way you dress in Munich comes with a price beyond the amount of money you pay for your outfit. If you wear a comfy sweatshirt, loose sweatpants or anything that looks too relaxed, you may get some looks or even stares.
Luxury is a Normality
According to the European Commission, fashion is one of the most “vibrant and creative sectors in Europe,” being “present in the everyday lives of millions of people and act as the ambassadors of European values, such as culture, creativity, innovation, and craftsmanship.” If you sit at one of the dozens of tables in the Marienplatz you see people wearing fitted clothes featuring luxury logos on many shoulders, shirts, pants and shoes. The difference was so distinct that after a couple of days in Munich, I could safely guess who was from the area and who was a tourist.
Riding down the escalator at Munich’s Topshop store, I spot two young women. One is wearing a brown, collared, wool trench coat with a brown turtleneck, black skinny jeans and black, studded platform boots. The other wears a white blouse, long black blazer, black jeans and platform black sneakers. I guessed they were no tourists.
I was right. Selma Zenkic and Ilayda Ildiz are both trainees at local banks. When I introduced myself to them, they were both sitting on black chairs speaking in German discussing the pile of clothes on the table between them.
Dressing Well is Necessary
Zenkic and Ildiz tell me that they put effort into their outfits, especially when walking in large, public areas, like the Marienplatz. “It’s like a routine, because you are growing up like that.” Zenkic further explains her “routine” is to dress in a classic manner, not because she necessarily wants to, but, because she feels she has to.
“Of course there are people who don’t mind, but I don’t know.” Zenkic says.
Ildiz says she and her friend plan outfits in advance according to color scheme. Some colors only coordinate with others, while pops of colors should accent only certain outfits. “I don’t like so many colors. I want black, white, green and one bright color,” Ildiz says. “We don’t mix blue and red. We don’t mix these colors,” they said together, finishing each other’s sentences.
Zenkic and Ildiz mentioned that they would love to be able to wear whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want, adding that it is “cool” to be able to run to the grocery store wearing pajama pants like some college students do in America, or wear leggings as a a part of an outfit with a large hoodie to public areas. However, the pair tell me that locals would frown on that style of dress.
I would like to dress like that [Americans], but here, everyone would judge you. You say that some will go to the grocery store in pajamas and we are like, “Oh my God, no one is allowed to see me like that.”
When asked if they would wear pajamas to the grocery store in America, however, Zenkic answers, “yes, of course!”
Keeping a Clean Reputation
According to Zenkic, Munich is a city where everyone knows everyone. Therefore, she says she is not allowed the luxury of walking through Marienplatz in sweats. Zenkic says the people will bad-mouth her.
“Oh my gosh! I have seen her and she wore that and that. Don’t let fool you, she’s not always dressed well. It’s a reputation, especially in Munich.”
Actually, It’s a sad city, because it’s like who has the most expensive shoes. Everyone has to have the newest things,” Zenkic and Ildiz says, respectively.
At the end of the interview after sharing the pressure they feel to dress a certain way Zenkic adds, she still finds Munich fashion quite “inspiring.”
Anaya Gibson is a fourth-year majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.