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1940s Society Shop >  History >  Articles on the 1940s >  An Introduction to Utility Clothing

An Introduction to Utility Clothing

What is it and why was it introduced?


A Brief Introduction to CC41
Written By Ian Baylay

A Brief Introduction to CC41

The utility mark
  Utility clothing was produced to aid the economy and help the war effort and although not actually being of military manufacture it is arguably getting close to a 'civilian uniform'.

Utility Clothing was introduced towards the end of 1941 by the British government with several purposes in mind.

Raw materials (cloth, wool, leather etc.) were in short supply and had to be conserved. Manufactures needed to become more efficient in their working practices (Much of the skilled labour had left to fight). Clothing prices (which were increasing) needed to be kept down so that the civilian population could afford clothing of a reasonable quality.

The Utility Clothing Scheme in the large part succeeded in these aims. Utility clothing was stamped or labelled with a utility mark (CC41), the two C's looking more like 'Pack Man' figures than letters, in an effort possibly to hide its true meaning i.e. Civilian Clothing 1941.
CC41 Paragraph 2

A utility jacket
  The government took control of the import and manufacture of raw materials and supplied cloth etc. to manufactures.

Manufactures were encouraged to produce a limited range of garments and therefore produce longer runs of garments using this 'Utility' material. This obviously increased efficiency while reducing the choice available.

The style of garments produced were also subject to 'austerity' regulations, which restricted how much cloth was used. For example, pockets were restricted, a maximum length for men's shirts was introduced and a ban on turn ups for men's trousers caused much heated debate.
CC41 Paragraph 3

Utility Shoes
  Utility clothing was also subject to price regulations.
Profits were restricted for both manufactures and retailers which resulted in Utility clothing being significantly cheaper than non-utility clothing when first introduced. This together with the initial dislike by some retailers of reduced profits may have given utility clothing its bad name.

Although initially there was a great deal of hostility directed at Utility clothing by the general public this reduced as more of the clothing reached the shops.

The public was surprised to discover that the clothing varied in style & colour and was generally hard wearing and good quality.

The utility scheme was later to include furniture as well some other items and continued past the war until it was finally withdrawn in 1952.
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