Nan TurnerOct 5, 2023
Clothing Goes to War
Creativity Inspired by Scarcity in World War II
Intellect Books 2022
Clothing Goes to War: Creativity Inspired by Scarcity in World War II (Intellect, 2022) by Nan Turner is the story of clothing use when manufacturing for civilians nearly stopped and raw materials and workers across the globe were shifted to war work. Governments mandated rationing programmes in many countries to regulate the limited supply, in hopes that the burden of austerity would be equally shared. Unfortunately, as the war progressed and resources dwindled, neither ration tickets nor money could buy what did not exist on store shelves.
Many people had to get by with their already limited wardrobes, often impacted by the global economic depression of the previous decade. Creativity, courage and perseverance came into play in caring for clothing using handicraft skills including sewing, knitting, mending, darning and repurposing to make limited wardrobes last during long years of austerity and deprivation.
This fascinating page-turner is the first cross-cultural account of the difficulties faced by common people experiencing clothing scarcity and rationing during World War II. In person interviews of women from over ten countries are contextualised with stories of the roles played by newly developed textiles, gendered dress in the workplace, handicraft skills often forgotten today, romance and weddings, rationing represented in war era film and the ever-present black market.
Nan also works to preserve WWII memories here.
Miranda Melcher (Ph.D., Defense Studies, Kings College, London) studies post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with deep analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.