Nobody knows exactly the origins of the Journeyman work wear or when and why the first Journeymen started their journey. Fact is that certain occupations knew already in medieval times a mandatory journey for every apprentice. This occupations include carpentry, joinery, roofing and metal workers.
A successful journey lasted at least 3 years and 1 day and was a requirement to finish your Masterpiece. Only after archiving the master title, a tradesman was allowed to settle down and start his own business.
Back in the days people didn’t travel a lot and often spent their whole life in the same village. The only news people got, came from passing merchants or the church.
Sending young tradesman on a journey was essential for the local craftsmen to learn about new skills and new techniques. When the Journeymen returned to their village they were able to teach local tradesmen what they learned on their journey.
Journeymen didn’t work for money but just for food and accommodation. Being poor was not the only challenge. Times were dangerous back then and not always the Journeyman would return to his village.
Every Journeyman got a golden earring at the start of the journey, that was supposed to pay for a good christian funeral in case of the worst to happen.
If a Journeyman would steal or lie or bring any shame to his guild, his master would rip his earring out. Still today the word „Schlitzohr“ (slut ear) is used in German speaking countries to describe someone of shady character.
The Journeymen Workwear
Since Journeymen didn’t earn money and moved from town to town to find work, they needed work clothes that could not just cope with heavy work but also to be comfortable enough to spent your nights in it.
Buying a spare pants was not an option. Journeymen counted on their clothes to get them through 3 years and 1 day of a Journeyman’s life.
Generations of experience, failure and success finally led to some masterpiece of German craftmansship – The Original German Journeyman Work Wear.