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5 clothing items you probably didn't know have been banned

Antje Binder / rbSeptember 9, 2016

Germany is debating a burqa ban. But such debates aren't new. Many clothing items have been banned over the course of history - and some might surprise you.

Lingerie Copyright: Imago
Image: imago/CHROMORANGE

"Jeans are a way of life and not a piece of clothing," Ulrich Plenzdorf says in the cult novel "The New Sufferings of Young W." Since its early years in the 1950s the trousers made of the heavy blue cotton fabric have stood for freedom, transparency and rebellion. No wonder that it was selected by many youngsters as a fashion statement at the time - also in communist East Germany.

There, however, the American pants were seen as the stuff of the capitalist devil. Only criminals and bums would wear jeans, said communist party leaders. Until the early 1970s, jeans were banned at some schools in East Germany.

Some students were thrown out of class if they wore a pair to school. Even some discos had a dress code forbidding jeans.

But the more the regime fought against jeans, the more popular they became. East German leadership finally gave in and tolerated the trousers from the West.

In 1974, East German textile factories began their own production. But jeans were given a different name - in the East they were called "Nietenhosen," or "rivet pants." Not only the name was different, even the appearance was altered slightly.

Since brands like Levi's or Wrangler were difficult to get in East Germany, many had jeans tailored themselves or told relatives from West Germany to bring a few with them.

In November 1989, of course, these concerns were forgotten. The images of hundreds of East Germans who streamed through the open border - all dressed in jeans - remain. Apparently jeans were not as popular anywhere as in East Germany, despite condemnation by the political leaders.

Find out in our gallery which other clothing items were also once banned in Europe.