I recently came across an excellent book called "Wearing Propaganda: Textiles on the Home Front in Japan, Britain, and the United States" by Jacqueline Atkins. Peppered with gorgeous images of fabric, clothing, and advertisements from the 30s and 40s, the author shows how fashion was used to elicit feelings of patriotism during the Asia-Pacific War.
My favorite examples from the book are the instances in which the patriotic elements emerge subtly from playful and dainty decorative forms. Take this printed fabric from Great Britain, for instance, on page 225:
On the left is a detail from a blouse. The print reads "The Navy's Here!" I imagine the dancing sailors from afar could be mistaken for a floral motif . On the right, parachuting soldiers land among grazing cattle in "The Home Guard." Both prints were designed by Arnold Lever and now reside in London's Target Gallery.
Here are a few more of my favorites:
In the fabric design "66 Coupons," the designer Arnold Lever lists items that were either rationed or in shortage during WWII. According to Atkins, such lighthearted allusions to wartime sacrifice was part of a larger effort to keep up morale on the Home Front.
Here, the Textile Color Association, Inc.lists colors for the 1942 fall season with patriotic names like "Independence Blue," "Valor Red," and "Victory Gold."
From Japan on page 295, a child's kimono from the 1930s, now in the collection of Mahoroba Oito Antiques, Kyushu.
I found these so interesting, and I'm trying to think of contemporary examples of fashion colliding with propaganda. Has anyone seen any such cases lately?