Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Touch of Ostalgie

If you look at my Etsy shops you will sometimes see a word used that is perhaps unfamiliar - 'Ostalgie'.   What, exactly, does 'ostalgie' mean, and why is it associated with certain slips?  The answer lies in that part of Germany that unfortunately found itself on the wrong side of the 'Iron Curtain' from 1949 to 1990 : the  German Democratic Republic 'GDR' or, in German, Deutsche Demokratische Republik 'DDR'.

The word 'ostalgie' is one of those made-up words that just appear in places to mark a phenomenon taking place in Germany - a strange nostalgia for the old, defunct socialist state of the DDR.  It is a word of two parts - 'ost', the German for 'east' and the ending of the German word for nostalgia, 'nostalgie'.

The DDR's coat of arms

Anything with 'ostalgie' is becoming collectible.  Objects that were once considered tacky, tasteless and old fashioned are becoming sought after - its a strange phenomenon.  Germans who have always lived in the capitalist west of Germany can develop symptoms of the highly contagious ostalgie from a sense of curiosity about the totalitarian state that used to be next door.  Germans, well, some Germans who lived in the DDR before reunification look back with fondness at a society that was at least orderly and structured, with plenty of work and a cradle-to-grave socialist welfare system.  'Ostalgie parties' are popular - dress up in readily available clothes from the DDR and drink your fizzy wine from ostalgic plastic cups and dance away to folky socialist records.  Ostalgie shops have sprung up all over the place - its become big business.

A brave new socialist world - for a while.
So, where does Ostalgie fit in with my Etsy stores DreamDate, DreamDatePlus and DreamDatePetties? Well, I am back from a buying trip to deepest Germany and lucky enough to have a quantity of vintage ostalgic (my word!) slips which are being listed on all three stores - some of which are factory deadstock and never been worn and still with production tags attached.  Fashion, in the DDR, was actually considered an important thing for the people's happiness and wellbeing - by government decree! Looking good fell in with the socialist ideal of social wellbeing and the authorities actively encouraged citizens to dress well to express this.  A huge fashion industry grew up in the DDR and - believe it or not - factory workers would have free fashion shows laid on for them during their lunch breaks!   This is all contrary to the belief of people in the west who were convinced life under communism spelled a lifetime in dour, badly made clothes.  I don't want to paint too rosy a picture of the DDR - a country where you could be shot on sight for trying to escape to the west - but at least if you stayed put and went along with their great big socialist ideal at least you could do it well dressed!

So happy.  So ostalgicly happy.
In the DDR, slips were manufactured in large plants using fabrics such as East Germany's Perlon equivalent  Dederon (click here for a related blogpost) and Regan.  A huge - bewilderingly huge - variety of colours and styles of slips were produced in the DDR and you'll find my Etsy listings peppered with great examples.  Below are just a tiny sample:

80s floral slip in Dederon

Comrade Cutie!  One from DreamDatePetties

You can be Red in Dederon!  Find this one here on DreamDate.

I have a very large quantity of ostalgic slips from the DDR to list - keep an eye out for them as they appear and maybe own your own bit of that old socialist paradise.  Farewell for now, Comrades!   Oh - before you go, would you be so kind as to rate my blog?  Click here - it only takes a second.....


1 comment:

  1. Great insight into fashion and the DDR thanks Emms


Thank you for your comment! Emma