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1939-45  • Utility Scheme

From Spring 1942 • Symbol of economy & quality
Utility symbolIn Spring 1942 the Government introduced the Utility Scheme which compelled cloth manufacturers to reduce waste and maintain quality.
Since June 1941 most clothing had been rationed. Each person was only allowed a few items. So that everyone had a fair share. Clothing coupons were needed when buying clothes.
In addition Board of Trade Government department in charge of businesses austerity restrictions on all clothing manufacture banned embelishments and features which wasted either material or labour. Utility clothing was clothing made from utility cloth. The utility scheme set standards to maintain quality and combat profiteering Making a fast buck out of war shortages.
The Utility label with its "fair share of the cake" symbol CC41 Civilian Clothing 1941 was used on all utility clothing, fabric and shoes. The year number 41 was not changed and was found on everything from shirts to pillowcases until the scheme ended in 1952.
Despite the restrictions , many well designed garments were produced.
Utility products were exempt from Purchase Tax.
    Restrictions for women's clothing included.

  • No elastic waistbands (rubber was needed for aircraft tyres)
  • No fancy belts
  • No unnecessary tucks pleats or gathers
  • No lace or embroidery.
  • No velvet or fur trimming.
  • No more than three buttons on a jacket.

Left A utility label, on a summer dress from "St Michael", the well known Marks & Spencer brand.

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