Fashion on a Ration

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From 11 October 2019 - 2 June 2020

“Clothing coupons are setting fashion trends!” read a De Telegraaf newspaper headline in October 1940. There was a growing shortage of textiles during the German occupation and clothes rationing started as early as the summer of 1940. The shortages changed the face of fashion. Women were making suits out of second-hand men’s suits, which led to a change in the shape of women’s suits to a straighter and wider model. From 1940 onwards, skirts became shorter to save fabric. Stockings became scarce and women started wearing trousers. Dresses made of two different fabrics became fashionable.

The exhibition Fashion on a Ration shows how fashion changed during the occupation and the creative solutions people came up with to compensate for fabric shortages. The exhibition shows dresses made of jute/sackcloth and flour sacks, a women’s suit made of underskirts, christening and wedding gowns made of parachute fabric, a jacket made of dog hair and shoes with wooden soles. Because people had to be very creative to look fashionable during the occupation.

Today, we live with overwhelming amounts of clothing. At the same time, re-use is a rising trend among fashion designers. Not because of shortages, but because of a growing awareness that we waste too much. The exhibition includes designs by Viktor&Rolf, Ronald van der Kemp and Lisa Konno. In addition, young designers from various regional education centres have designed items inspired by clothes from World War Two. You will find the best of these designs on display as part of the Fashion on a Ration exhibition.