Whether you adore these traditional Alpine clothing ever since you visited the European Alps, live there, intend to find the best, most original one or are interested in learning about the history of this garment, this post informs you about all these aspects of the janker or so-called trachten loden jacket. Read what to look for in a janker.
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The Fabric of an Original Janker
The original janker is an Austrian or Bavarian trachten loden jacket or coat made in these countries of South Tyrol which since after the Great War belongs to Italy. The Janker or Spencer is a boxy hip length jacket originally worn in the Alpine region. They are made of loden. Loden is made from the coarse, oily wool of mountain sheeps. It has a traditional bluish-green color. The name of the fabric goes back to the Middle High German word lode or the Old High German word lodo that means coarse cloth.
To produce loden a loose weave of strong yarns undergoes a process of shrinking due to hot water under which it acquires a dense, felt-like texture. Brushing of this cloth increases the teasel. The nap is clipped. The process of shrinking, brushing and clipping is repeated until the fabric provides good insulation for the weight, and becomes windproof and very durable. Note that melton, the fabric of the original Duffle coats is produced in a similar way.
What to Look for in a Janker: The Two Basic Versions
The short all-day version has a thick coarse loden fabric like the ones shown above. The seam and closure often don a knit contrast in the same color as the janker or a contrast. The two small pockets on each side of the front have knit or color contrast. The pockets are just large enough to hold a handkerchief, or some change. Fancy men jankers may have a belt with button on the sleeves like in the photos above. One button of the front closure buttons often has a different contrast than the other buttons (see example below).
Buttons from horn or metal
Jankers made for men feature dear horn buttons (see photo above and below), but metal buttons exist that look like coins. They often have some eagle imprint. Women jankers rarely have horn buttons, but eagle or edelweiss featuring metal buttons.
A janker in a long version serves as a coat and is called Innsbrucker (photo below). It is great for humid, windy weather. The women’s version often has a hood (see Munich store window photo later in this post).
The everyday jankers for women have princess darts in the front, and back for fit. Sometimes, embroidery or a trim along the front closure and/or pockets adore the garnent.
Colors and embroidery
The everyday jankers typically come in gray, green or brown for men, while women have the additional choice of red and black. Jankers for men have a crew-neck, sometimes a stand-up collar, and often no pockets. While the crew-neck is very popular with women, there are also versions that feature a blazer-like collar on the front (see photo of the little boy) and a sort of crew-neck in the back. Two oblong cut dear horn buttons fix the collar in place to flip back in windy weather. The women’s version often has embroidery of edelweiss or other Alpine flowers on the collar.
Around the pockets, the contrast may feature some stylized oak leave with embroidery instead of a simple contrast. The stand-up collar, and contrasts at the button openings and belt are green as well. The closure may reach all the way up to the neck. Alternatively, the sides of the jacket may be folded to the side. In this case, an oblong dear horn button in a contrast button hole holds the sides in place. Even with this type of collar, the stand-up collar often remains around the sides and the back of the neck.
The fancy Sunday’s best jankers (photos below) are made from thinner, and finer loden than the ones worn during the week (for work). Sunday’s best comes in two color options for men, gray or brown. The men’s version of Sunday’s best covers the hips. The front pockets have green contrasts, and in the back, there may be a box pleat to allow movement for the shoulder blades. The pleat goes to the waist. Here a Dragoner buttoned half-belt ends the pleat. When the pleat opens up, it shows the green contrast.
Sunday’s Best for women is also available in brown or gray with green contrasts, but the embroidery or contrasts can be red as well. Furthermore, black as main color with red or green contrast/embroidery or red as main color with green contrast are very popular. The length is still just to the top of the hip bone or shorter. The boxy versions have a contrast pleat in the back.
Still today, these Apline traditional jackets and coats are produced by little family-owned companies in the European Alpine region (Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland, South Tyrol) and provide employment to many (wo)men there.
Today women wear the boxy style janker, i.e. the men’s version with jeans and a plain or graphic T-shirt.
Traditionally, women wear their janker over dirndls as outerwear. On rainy days, for instance, women don the loden jacket when visiting the Oktoberfest.
What strikes me most about the jankers is that in the Alpine region of the Old World, people reserve the nice clothes the weekend, while here in the New World, weekend clothes are the more relaxed ones. Read what Americans wear on the weekend.
A whole new world. 😉
Where to Find Original Jankers in the US
Sure, you could order them online at the manifacturers’ webpages. However, that means you have to deal with the customs, etc. Sometimes you can score a good used one on eBay. When you want a high quality original, you may be lucky at Alpine Country Clothing.Did you know that the janker is also called Habsburger coat? #fashion #triva Click To Tweet
Knit Jackets in Janker Cut
The knitted janker is a cheap variation in the same cut as the original short janker (see photo below). The body is typically black and embelished with a green knitted trim. Women wear this style in summer during the week on chilly days without rain. Below I styled it in a way that you can incorporate the jacket into your everyday winter wear. Note that this type of knit jackets are not original jankers in the close sense of the term.
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Photos: N. Mölders
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