• Jul 3rd, 2011

PACMAN’S BACK

Perfect for this weather is this recently unearthed treasure trove, fresh as the day they were made. A stock of saleman’s sample shirts, all with the distinctive CC41 Utility mark.

These Pucci-esque pastel colour Aertex polo’s and candy stripe Egyptian cotton poplin collarless shirts in smock ‘popover’ style, or fully buttoning, seem incredibly modern.

The Utility mark was a government scheme, launched in 1941, to regulate clothing manufacture during the war. The aim was to produce civilian clothing to a consistent quality level, at an affordable price, due to the shortages of labour and raw materials, and rising costs. This was the first time government dictated a National dress code, based on austerity measures, it standardised shirt lengths, how much cloth used (for instance turn ups were banned), trimmings etc.

The Utility experiment ended in 1952 with the end of rationing proper. These are a lasting colourful reminder of grand ambitions in the face of adversity.

If you like your shirts to have a collar here is a stashette of matching “tuberized” detatchable collars.

Not uniquely confined to clothing, but also extended to accessory design, household goods, even furniture, the CC41 logo was all encompassing. The graphic ‘cheeses’ design often thought of as Civilian Clothing 41 (actually Controlled Commodity), was designed by Reginald Shipp to be a recognisable sign of quality,and of course it resembles a certain 1980s video game character we all know and love!

Words by SM / Photography by Nic Shonfeld.

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