What is it about WWII clothing?

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Gandi
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What is it about WWII clothing?

Postby Gandi » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:11 pm

Having read young master Haymans post about WWI/II clothes on 'buy and sell' and followed the link, I find myself with a question.

Why is it that WWII re-enactors desperately want to own AND wear original kit? The owning I get, but why wear it? Surely, wearing new uniform is the accurate thing to do, not 60 year old ones? Quite apart from the fact that wearing them must damage them & eventually destroy them, I would have thought that having repro unifoms would be the way to go, but they seem to be shunned if there is the opportunity to wear an original; the repro stuff also seems to be as scarce as rocking horse do do,why?

As a medieval/civil war/roman etc reenactor would you wear original if you could?

Any comments anyone?


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Postby craig1459 » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:16 pm

I do this for fun - real kit may well have seen real action

C20 re-enactment doesn't sit easily with me personally :? but I can see why people want to do it


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Postby Thomas Hayman » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:25 pm

Ah, it fitting is good for the odd VE day thing (been known to help out before) but i don't do re-enactment in it. If i were to do re-enactment i'd most certainly have new stuff made, except maybe for unissued common items.
I mean, i wouldn't wear an original Jack for my archer getup, i'd have one made.
I onyl wear the greatcoat because i know i'm onyl going out in it, not running or vigorous activities (sound really lazy). Sorry if it came across a bit wrong.



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Postby Gandi » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:38 pm

TJH, no no no, not having a pop at you, or anything to do with the greatcoat (nice purchace BTW).

It's just that the link you posted kickstarted the thought in my bwrain again. I had to help put together a uniform for an event for the VE stuff and every lead i was given for where to get stuff led to originals.

Getting the repro uniform was fine in the end, though the number of suppliers was limited (in comparison to dealers in originals and in comparrison to other periods); but the rest of the kit, belts, bayonets etc had to be original wartime or just postwar issuse. I've chatted with a few WWII reenactors and they really do prefer to wear the real deal and i just don't understand why.

I also find it hard to grasp why there aren't many/any repros of some of the kit, it's not as if the original stuff doesn't exist to copy is it? Earlier periods with much less evidence manage to do it so why not the later periods when there's evidence aplenty?


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Postby Thomas Hayman » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:42 pm

Cost could be a factor. I think it would actually work out cheaper to buy original than repro. This past VE day celebration the guy we had in brought in some repro unfiorms or other to wear (my hair is to long :-( ) and they cost around 400 quid, i understand this is much more than original kit?

Sadly, the bets place i could find for repro stuff, i see what you mean. http://www.geocities.com/ww2repros/

There is a certain feel about original stuff too.



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Postby Gandi » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:46 pm

possible,but i personally would doubt it. £150 got us trousers, battle dress jacket, shirt, GS cap and side cap. All made new and with no worries about any damage that might occur to it, so clean consciences all round :)

Surely better anyway to keep the originals for future generations and not destroy them?


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Postby Thomas Hayman » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:48 pm

Exactly, this is why i'm making a little collection of stuff :-)
lus, german stuff is done to hell and really expensive, British is cheaper and looks better IMHO :P (sorry panz)



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Postby Vicky » Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:44 pm

A lot of the WWII re-enactors I've met have been collectors first, re-enactors second, which could go some way to explain it. I have had exactly the same discussion with them, Gandi. Surely even the 'plentiful' stuff will run out if used - IIRC they were saying that blanco was becoming difficult to get - though had been plentiful (or was that because it's poisonous - hmmn, bad memory sometimes!).

Of course, the idea of using something that looks 60 years old rather than new is a bit odd from an interpretation perspective anyway, but as I say, if they're collectors in the main, it's more logical to want to wear the real thing.



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Postby Tuppence » Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:29 am

I've always had a huge problem with this whole thing for ages

(and no, before anybody jumps down my throat, it's not because I do repros - I've though this for longer than that).

it's just that I studied the history of clothing (not so much uniforms - that came later) before I started making clothing. and I started with the 30s and 40s.

but as I went further back, I noticed that in the 19th century, there were huge numbers of 17th and 18th century outfits around that were being worn and used, and chopped about to make fancy dress, etc.

now the quantity of survivng originals is miniscule in comparison.

I'm not saying that re-enactors are using them for fancy dress, or that they're cutting up the origianls, or anything like that. and if a collector first, re-enactor second, then hooray - they'll probably make sure things stay in one piece, and be able to tell when something's gone beyond the point of being used, (and hopefully someday donate to a museum).

but the end result of wearing fragile clothing that's approaching antique status in the conditions that I regularly see it being used in (muddy fields, etc), will be the same. what's plentiful now won't be in fifty years - and people in my position then will curse every re-enactor who crawled about in a field in an original uniform, just as I curse every victorian party goer who chopped up a 17th century dress to make a new outfit.


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Postby Gandi » Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:54 am

Vicky & Tuppence,
I would agree with both of you re the 'plentiful' points. 20 years ago we were all cutting up firewatchers helmets to make (now) crappy helmets for 'medieval' events- see G23b's comments on reenacting 80's reenactmet on other threads!- It makes me shudder to think now; so that does certainly hold true and makes me just as guilty!
I'd like to think though that 'we' are all more conscious of how damaging that is to 'history' and i'd have thought that a collector of uniforms should be more aware than most.

Tuppence, with regards to the fancy dress use in the past, the strangest use for old uniforms i've come across is in a set of Real Tennis balls. They are made of a core that can last for years, this core is then re-covered very regularly (you need over 70 balls for a tournament level game and the covers last only a few games) One set i looked at a few years ago contained cores made from old uniforms, one of which had a label in the cloth that dated it to 1900-1910 :shock: God knows when it was cut up (probably not at that date), but it goes to show that stuff can end up in the oddest places!


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Postby Grymm » Fri Nov 25, 2005 12:17 pm

Thomas don't worry too much 'bout the hair, a cap gs covers a multitude of sins. A mate with waist lenght hair gets it all under one and my nip length(admittedly rapidly thinning)barnet was brylcremed up under a side cap for an event in Aug, 'think I got away with it.

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Postby Thomas Hayman » Fri Nov 25, 2005 12:49 pm

NO worries about hair now, its about half an inch long, from neck length :-)
I much prefer it this way, though, none of my friends recognised me!



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Gandi
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Postby Gandi » Fri Nov 25, 2005 12:55 pm

Grymm

Yes you did 'get away with it' :D ......

And you know it, tart :wink:


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Postby gregory23b » Fri Nov 25, 2005 4:16 pm

Ahh now I know who grymm is, the hair thing gave it away, saw you on telly, yet again today, pmed Gandi about it.


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Postby Gandi » Fri Nov 25, 2005 5:21 pm

yes you do, but not who you're thinking of at the moment!

Think more along the lines of falling off a castle :wink:, t'other media whore doesn't post on here.


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Postby gregory23b » Fri Nov 25, 2005 6:36 pm

Oh yes same name, sorry grymm, you mentioned it at ORM didn't you? doh!! early onset amnesia.

Inspiral carpets, well almost.


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Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

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Postby Grymm » Sun Nov 27, 2005 5:34 pm

He's the one that talks a lot, I fall off castles............now you remember :P

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Postby Sani » Mon Nov 28, 2005 11:50 pm

Hmmm

Well, being a WWII re-enactor, I can definately say people are not shunned for wearing repro - just unconvincing FARBY repro :wink:

I portray a German WWII medic (a Sani), all of my kit by neccesity is original, you just cant get the repro items for this impression. However I am a collector so I understand that these items are rare, and sometime I will have to say enough is enough and put them away in a refigerated cabinet ( :wink: ). But, until that day comes, I continue to treat my equipment with respect - and so far touch wood, no damage has occured.

I do hate to see original uniform garments being mis-treated and being worn in "battle scenario's", but there are those amongst us who share their items with the public by actually wearing them (and treating them responcibily I might add) during living history displays etc. These items (enless very fragile) in my opinion do not deserve to be locked away, and need to be displayed openly. Also to be fair if you can get away with wearing an original uniform garment, you most probably look the dogs danglies as far as authenticity goes.

I suppose in the end, we get the same feeling wearing/using an original item as perhaps some of you would sporting a nice original piece of C14 armour (for example) - it emmerses you in the "history" and gives you a nostalgic feeling.


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Postby Gandi » Tue Nov 29, 2005 12:17 am

Also to be fair if you can get away with wearing an original uniform garment, you most probably look the dogs danglies as far as authenticity goes


Sani, i'd have to disagree with that, as although you can't beat the 'real thing' to see what the item looks like, it wouldn't have been over 60 years old originally would it? :wink:

I agree whole heartedly that the originals should be seen, it's just that i personally don't think that it should be when they are being worn for a reenactment, but thats entirely my own opinion

I would also seriously doubt that anyone would wear a piece of original armour, but then again i may be talking out of my hat.

anyone else got an opinion?


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Postby Sani » Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:50 am

Gandi wrote:
Also to be fair if you can get away with wearing an original uniform garment, you most probably look the dogs danglies as far as authenticity goes


Sani, i'd have to disagree with that, as although you can't beat the 'real thing' to see what the item looks like, it wouldn't have been over 60 years old originally would it? :wink:

I agree whole heartedly that the originals should be seen, it's just that i personally don't think that it should be when they are being worn for a reenactment, but thats entirely my own opinion

I would also seriously doubt that anyone would wear a piece of original armour, but then again i may be talking out of my hat.

anyone else got an opinion?


Well, not all items look 60 years old for a start (its suprising what condition alot of items are in)....and as Ive said, alot of the time people wear their original garments because A) they cant get the repro B) for a liviing history display where they can wear said garment for photo and display purposes. Rather like displaying something in a museum, only the museum moves and tells you what their displaying :wink:

Also, working on your principle, we shouldnt use original (deactivated or rented under a section 5 holder) weapons either :shock:


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Postby Gandi » Tue Nov 29, 2005 1:26 pm

where they can wear said garment for photo and display purposes. Rather like displaying something in a museum, only the museum moves and tells you what their displaying


I like that analogy, although i still don't agree with the wearing of the objects as it goes against all the artefact conservation training i've had. In which case, you're right, no original weapons shouldn't be used if you carry my thinking through. Also wether it looks old or not is not the point, the fact is that it is old and wouldn't have been at the time.

In an IDEAL world of 'reenactment', ALL objects would be reproduction to safeguard the real things for the future- display them yes, but destroy them through continued use no; and no matter how much care you take with them by using originalobjects you are contributing to it wearing out.

BUT i know that this is not an ideal world and accept that in some cases the original is the only thing available, still doesn't mean i agree with it though :wink:


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Postby Sani » Tue Nov 29, 2005 9:37 pm

Gandi wrote:
where they can wear said garment for photo and display purposes. Rather like displaying something in a museum, only the museum moves and tells you what their displaying


I like that analogy, although i still don't agree with the wearing of the objects as it goes against all the artefact conservation training i've had. In which case, you're right, no original weapons shouldn't be used if you carry my thinking through. Also wether it looks old or not is not the point, the fact is that it is old and wouldn't have been at the time.

In an IDEAL world of 'reenactment', ALL objects would be reproduction to safeguard the real things for the future- display them yes, but destroy them through continued use no; and no matter how much care you take with them by using originalobjects you are contributing to it wearing out.

BUT i know that this is not an ideal world and accept that in some cases the original is the only thing available, still doesn't mean i agree with it though :wink:


mmm

Well, I think at the end of the day it will have to be down to the respectful owner. If said item is damaged, may it weigh heavily upon their conscience :wink:


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Postby madjon » Wed Nov 30, 2005 2:12 am

just to throw something in to the conservation debate, should all museum displays be in cabinets with acid free paper controlled humidity and keeping the light levels at a minimum to prevent light bleaching?
are items that would otherwise be destroyed through everyday use or neglect except for that they have an appreciative audience in the living history people, who maintain and service them and keep them in optimum condition , should they be left alone? should everything over thirty or forty or fifty or sixty years old be kept away from people touching feeling and understanding them, should medieval manuscripts only be available in pdf format to researchers and historians and never go on display to the public for conservation reasons? what is the inherent historical value in something if it can not be used for education and learning?

if ww2 kit isnt maintained regularly and is left in a museum basement where is the value in it? the use of original equipment for instruction public lecture or display obviates the inherent changes associated with even the best reproduction items over time. if not for interest in it would ww2 equipment survive? would vehicles which are far past their life span be seen as a historical display or as scrap metal? where in the point of vehicle restoration for instance are you saving a vehicle for the future and destroying original features? just a few thoughts.



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Postby Sani » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:05 pm

madjon wrote:just to throw something in to the conservation debate, should all museum displays be in cabinets with acid free paper controlled humidity and keeping the light levels at a minimum to prevent light bleaching?
are items that would otherwise be destroyed through everyday use or neglect except for that they have an appreciative audience in the living history people, who maintain and service them and keep them in optimum condition , should they be left alone? should everything over thirty or forty or fifty or sixty years old be kept away from people touching feeling and understanding them, should medieval manuscripts only be available in pdf format to researchers and historians and never go on display to the public for conservation reasons? what is the inherent historical value in something if it can not be used for education and learning?

if ww2 kit isnt maintained regularly and is left in a museum basement where is the value in it? the use of original equipment for instruction public lecture or display obviates the inherent changes associated with even the best reproduction items over time. if not for interest in it would ww2 equipment survive? would vehicles which are far past their life span be seen as a historical display or as scrap metal? where in the point of vehicle restoration for instance are you saving a vehicle for the future and destroying original features? just a few thoughts.


And some good points raised IMHO.


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Postby colonelboris » Sun Dec 04, 2005 12:29 am

On the subject of greatcoats, can anyone point me towards an old-style (not necessarily WWII) RAF greatcoat, preferably officers?
It's not for reenactment, just general use (thereby dodging that argument...)


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