Wearing Propaganda: 1931-45 Textiles and apparel on the home front in Japan, Britain and United States.
As well as casting new light on wartime propaganda methods, it provides fascinating insights into the divergent attitudes towards patriotism and war in the three countries in question
The contrast between the personal, intimate nature of these garments, including various types of kimono, obi (sash) and haori (jacket) and their strident nationalistic imagery was startling
Whereas all the British and American textiles were either roller-printed by machine, or screen-printed or block-printed by hand, the Japanese employed a variety of techniques, including kasuri, where the warp is printed, rather than the cloth, resulting in blurred effects. Many kimonos were produced as one-offs. Some were hand-painted rather than printed; many were decorated using stencils, paste-resists and dyes, a process known as yüzen.
Part 1: Setting the Context 1931-1945
Asia Pacific War begins with Manchurian Incident in 1931 Japan gains power, sees itself a modern
Hitler on the Rise in Germany
Britain 1939 declares war on Germany
US Pearl Harbor 1941
Propaganda on the Home Fronts:
Visual Propaganda, appeals to emotions vs. intellect
Homefront: morale and motivation are lost, commitment to battle soon follows.
Propaganda involves: a sender, a message, a receiver, a purpose, a medium and an effect.
Includes: national visual culture, popular, and material culture: posters, cartoons, leaflets, advertising, cinema, radio and news media to get the message across.
Agitation propaganda – call to action
Integration propaganda – substituting one framework for another war to peace, moral, social, and intellectual indoctrination.
V is for Victory
Propaganda textiles were worn in Japan by adults and children, and used for traditional clothing such as kimono, obi, nagajuban, haori, and in accessories haneri, furoshiki, tenugui, and furoshiki.
Furoshiki were favored as military mementos’ and were made with designs referencing specific military units or events.
Tenugui were made for household use, zabuton and futon.
Represent traditional masculine attributes: power, bravery and loyalty.
Koinobori – carp banner flown for boy’s holidays
Kobuto – samurai helmets
Gosho ningyo – doll figure
American and British propaganda textiles were made into dress goods for women’s accessories, such as handkerchiefs and scarves. For men ties were the logical place.
Propaganda Precedents – pre 1930’s
Bedcover, “the apotheosis of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington” Britain ca. 1785
Handkerchief, “Playing Soldiers” Britain 1880.
Dress yardage “the Union Forever” 1861-65. Printed cotton.
Kerchief. “remember the Maine” 1898.
Japan, 1894 war board game.
Short Silk Juban, 1905.
Russo-Japanese War Surrender, Japan 1905. Kimono Fabric, early 20th century.
Part 2: Visual Culture of War
Japan’s Beautiful Modern War
Childs Kimono detail. 1937
1930’s Japanese government posters
Potatoes are Protective, Too
Textile: Battle of Britain. 1940.
Ministry of Food Ad. 1943.
Cover of Boo-Boo barrage Balloon. 1940.
Barrage balloons used the largest stretches of textiles in Britain during WWII. Riveting home front icon. Lowly potatoes come into play as a stand in balloon.
Dress. Happy Landings. Designed by Arnold Lever 1940.
Woman versus man became enemy versus ally.
Kerchief “keep it dark” 1940
Dress detail: mosaic of “you never know who’s listening” 1940’s.
An American Vision Doing our part.
Broadside and poster
Pincushion “hotzi notzi” 1941
Part 3: Wearing Propaganda: fashion, textiles and morale on the home front.
Extravagance is the enemy
Woman’s Haori. “the thrill of the flight” late 1920’s – early 1930’s
Narrow width weaving
Childs Haregi. “images of war” late 1930’s
Give up dresses and kimono and wear a Monpe, make up and permanent waves were banned in 1939.
Cotton shortage, wool requisitioned for military clothing and blankets, silk only textile not imported and was also channeled into war good.
National guidelines for dress – the committee for reform of national dress, from ministries of army, commerce, agriculture and imperial household affairs.
Outline for Implementing Simplified Wartime Clothing Habits. Greater regulation of styles and created a new mode know as “reformed western dress” Monpe only garment generally adapted.
1942 High fashion non-existent due to shortages.
boy’s summer kimono “running soldiers” 1940’s.
Design and War: Kimono as “Parlor Performance” Propaganda.
Japans military might is projected toward Korea and China.
Furoshiki “war in china” Kimono fabric 1930’s.
Children’s Kimono’s appeal to the child as well as the adults who see them and require less material than an adults Kimono.
Modern design in clothing was manifested in two ways during wartime: the kimono with war-promoting designs and the designs for standardized clothing. Civilian uniforms for men (kokuminfuku) and women (hyojunfuku) represent propaganda on a grander scale because they were sanctioned and promoted by the government.
Principe motifs of the Kimono:
Armaments (battleships, airplanes, tanks, sabers, bayonets, bombs, artillery)
The national flag, military flags, army and navy badges, golden kite medal
Rich nation, strong army and industrial development
Man’s Nagujuban, 1939-41
Keeping up on the home front morale: beauty and duty in wartime Britain
“the peoples war”
Austerity and appearances – downplay the instabilities and paradoxes thrown up by the changing definition of a woman. Show solidarity by adopting a more austere look.
It’s a women’s duty to keep themselves looking their best. “Looking good” lifts spirits.
Utility clothing scheme: state regulated program for the production, pricing, and rational of clothes, entitled everyone to basic but limited amounts of clothing at fair prices through ha coupon system of payment.
Utility Suit gray harringbone wool. Britain 1942
Utility clothing was regarded as fashionable as clothing produced outside the systems looked like that produced with in.
Making do and Making over
Berketex Utility range of dresses. Britain 1942
Beauty a duty – for women who joined the women’s services between 1939-1945.
Dress Fabric and jacket. Britain 1940
London Squares: the scarves of wartime Britain.
Showing the colors of America:
Fashion Center shifts to US.
Uncle Sam assumed roll of fashion designer.
Sweeping restrictions aim to save 15% of the yardage now used in women’s and girl’s apparel. Restricted hems and belts. Dresses shorter and tighter. Men’s suits made without vests and pockets. Wool, metal zippers, rubber, leather (cork wedges)
two-toned clothing, make with patched together clothing
Production of Hemp is encouraged.
Nylon was missed, women stood in line for hours.
Feed sack fabric
Aeroplane Kimono 1930’s
Kimono and Obi 1930’s
Modern Military, 1930’s
Childs Vest, Printed muslin. 1930’s.
woman’s haori. 1930’s
Boy’s Kimono 1938-40
Military Man Kimono 1930’s
Obi. Marching soldiers. 1930’s
Baby’s haori. “fighting machines” 1930’s.
Girls Naregi. 1941
boy’s haori. 1940’s
boys haori. 1940’s.
Scarves – United States
Victory Yardage 1940’s.