The Mass Production of Volunteer Uniforms in Great Britain During the Second World War by Cleo Yarber

The most amusing exhibitions at the Imperial War Museum were the different service uniforms and how their position and objective changed the production and construction of the garment. The museum display is incredible and the uniforms are close enough to the glass where you can see the fibers in the clothing. There are several things to take into account when creating garments on a large scale: “What volunteer position was it going to be”, “How much the fabric would cost to mass produce these uniforms”, “What are the sizes?”, and later on in the war “how does rationing affect the production”. For what type of position, the type of fabric used is extremely important because if the volunteer position is to put out fires or is in proximity with fire then wool is the smartest choice because it’s naturally fire retardant. The “how much fabric” question would be dependent on the producer the government consults with to see how much they can produce on a mass scale and what types of fabric they have. The producer will also set the price on how much fabric is used per garment and what that will cost the government if they make a certain amount of uniforms. For the sizing aspect, there must have been a size that the producer would use and people would have to hope that they were fit, or they would consult a tailor if the garment was too big or make their own if it was too small. Later in the war, rationing would be more strenuous on the people of London, so this would affect the production and quality of the civil service uniforms. 

Learning the process for the production of uniforms is important in seeing where items are produced, the ethics of the production of the uniforms, how the government plays a role in the regulation of chemicals and fibers, and how the regulation of certain textiles and materials during war time affected the process of creating uniforms. Today, Consumers are also informed how their modern day garments are regulated by country and how resources are available or limited to producers to make a particular item. Modern day fabrics are now regulated by Chemical, ethical, and environmental expectations that are followed by modern day producers. They’re expected to be truthful about their product and what type of resources, textiles, and chemical finishes that they use. In the images listed below to the left, is the uniform for the AFS forces, who spotted and put out fires. Both the second and third pictures are dedicated to the ARP standard uniforms that had the role of warning citizens and protecting them from air raids. The last photo is dedicated towards James Crawford and his uniform, what it would look like with the different fabrics and the uniforms, and his service during wartime. James Crawford was a veteran of the first World War who volunteered for the home guard position in the second World War. The museum presents each uniform with a placard of what position used the uniforms and has a personal story of the people who volunteered in each position.

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