Crisis precipitates change and the attach on Pearl Harbor brought rapid and profound changes to the Home Front almost immediately.
Page 12 LUGGAGE & LEATHER GOODS for June, 1942
Problems Ahead Are Many and Diverse
They Call for Intelligence and Leadership of a High Order — Industry Will Maintain Civilian Economy Consistent with the Successful Prosecution of War—Cooperate to Achieve Final Victory
By H. G. KATES
The situation confronting the industry today is not as encouraging as we should like it to be. Planning becomes difficult, if not impossible in a period of rapidly shifting change, of governmental restrictions and regulations made imperative by the exigencies of the war. Price ceilings, raw material shortages, inventory regulations, have interfered with the normal laws of supply and demand to such an extent that we find it difficult to chart our course from one day to the next.
Widening Government Controls
Immediately ahead of us we face limitations on passenger travel on trains as well as planes, with increasing emphasis on travel for essential purposes only. A further curtailment of basic materials necessary to the manufacture of our products is in the offing; and we may also look forward to a widening of governmental controls and regulations within the near future. It becomes quite clear, therefore, that manufacturing for civilian needs will be increasingly difficult, and will tax our ingenuity in obtaining substitutes and in altering our products if we are to continue to operate with the limited materials available.
Revise Operation Methods
Some of us will find a way out by gearing our plants to the war effort and producing items required by various governmental branches. Subcontracting, too, may take up a part of the slack-within our industry. Still others may find it necessary to shut down completely for the duration, since the Government apparently has an excess of
facilities of our type far larger than procurement needs for the products we are equipped to manufacture. All of us will have to revise our method of operation to reduce needless overhead and to maintain as best we can a liquid position.
Retailer May Feel Pinch
These conditions will, of course, have an equally grave effect upon the retailer in the industry. He will begin to feel the pinch of shortages before long. He, too, will be called upon to put forth his best efforts and his greatest ingenuity to meet the problems and conditions imposed upon him by a world at war. Survival for him will depend upon his ability to adapt himself to the changing needs of a war economy, to shift emphasis from one line to another which may present fewer selling and procurement problems, to control carefully his inventory position. In this last connection the recent trial balloon of the War Production Board in respect to inventory regulation will serve as a very salutary warning of what may result from an unbalanced inventory position.
Cooperate for Victory
The problems immediately ahead of us are many and diverse. They call for intelligence and leadership of a high order. We shall do our best to help maintain a civilian economy consistent with the successful prosecution of the war. As patriotic Americans, we shall bend every effort to cooperate with the Government in every way we can to further the war effort till final victory is achieved.
Suppliers of critical components for bags sought to maintain standards in the wake of government mandated limitations. (June 1942 Luggage & Leather Goods, page 52)
Obviously, manufacturing was confronted with Government mandated limitations on the use of materials, especially metal. Zippers and handbag frames along with trims and snaps were restricted to war use only. Associations for many industries held meeting to receive updated on restrictions and war needs conversion. This article covered the meeting of Luggage and Leather Goods Manufacturers of America at Atlantic City on May 11 and 12, 1942 (pg13 of LUGGAGE & LEATHER GOODS for June, 1942.)
Luggage Industry and the War
WPB, OP A and Army Speakers Tell Convention What Government Expects of Luggage and Leather Goods Manufacturers—H. G. Kates New President of Association
Officials of the Leather Section and the Iron and Steel Section of the War Production Board of the Office of Price Administration and of the Army Quartermaster Corps, speaking before the Fourth Annual Convention of the Luggage and Leather Goods Manufacturers of America at Atlantic City on May 11 and 12, told manufacturers just what they can and cannot do under the several restrictive orders issued by the Government and offered suggestions designed to help luggage manufacturers solve some of their more pressing problems.
The sum and substance of these talks was that while the industry is being hit by the requirements of war, the restrictions on the industry are not nearly as great as at first believed and that for the next several months most manufacturers can continue production with no great disturbance; at least, war's interference with the luggage industry is slight in comparison to a great many other industries.
Continued Use of Steel
The clarification of restrictions in Order M-126, which limits the use of iron and steel, was particularly interesting to luggage manufacturers and they were relieved to learn that they can continue to use steel and iron parts in the manufacture of luggage after August 3 and as long as they have these parts in stock. This information, together with the modification of Order L-68, restricting the use of metal slide fasteners, puts the majority of luggage manufacturer in a position to keep their production up to at least present levels for the greater part of the remainder of this year.
Even though heavy leather is becoming more and more scarce and the greater part of the approaching production of domestic hides will be taken by war needs, there is considerable assurance that the luggage industry will still be able to secure a fair supply of the lighter skins and these plus leather now in stock in luggage factories will permit continued operations.
Few War Orders Available
Hopes of luggage manufacturers for securing any substantial amount of business through war orders were pretty thoroughly crushed when Army spokesmen at the convention indicated that they were now securing all the luggage and leather goods they needed for war purposes. It was also indicated that the Government would give no help or encouragement to luggage and leather goods manufacturers who wanted to convert their plants to war orders in industries where the Government was already assured of a sufficient supply of materials; however, if manufacturers could convert their plants to industries where there is still an acute shortage, the Government would give them every possible help.
The two featured speakers of the opening session of the convention on May 11 were Major Joseph W. Byron, Chief of the Leather and Shoe Section of the Textile, Clothing and Leather Division of the War Production Board, who outlined the situation in leather, and Andrew J. Haire, publisher of LUGGAGE & LEATHER GOODS, who spoke on "Luggage in a World at War."
Stanley Klein, Executive Vice-President of the Association, presided at this session and the opening address was delivered by President Joseph N. Lowe, who expressed his gratitude to the membership at large and to the officers in particular for the manner in which they had cooperated with him in the expanded activities of the organization during the past year.
Association Executives Speak
Greetings from related associations were presented by A. B. Sheldon, Executive Secretary of the National Luggage Dealers Association; Ben Becker, President of the Luggage and Leather Goods Salesmen's Association of America; David Silbert, Executive Secretary of the Chicago Luggage and Leather Goods Manufacturers Association, and Samuel Laderman, Secretary-Treasurer of the International Ladies' Handbag, Pocketbook and Novelty Workers Union and General Manager of the Chicago Luggage Workers.
In presenting an outline of the Association's activities during the past year, Executive Secretary Maurice A. Levitan devoted the major part of his report to explaining what the organization had done to keep its members informed of war activities' effect upon the industry and advising members of the possibilities of securing war orders. The report also showed that the Association had enjoyed a substantial membership increase within the year.
Prepare for Future
After outlining restrictions that had been necessarily imposed upon industry generally by the requirements of war, Mr. Haire said : "From what I have learned here in the last two days, the luggage and leather goods industry is not in anything like the critical situation that a great many other industries are, but within another six to nine months this industry may be facing the same stern conditions that now exist in other industries. You are fortunate in having the vital element of time at your disposal, and it would be well to prepare yourself now to more intelligently face problems that will arise in the future."
Paying tribute to industry for the major part it is playing now in the prosecution of war and in assuring the ultimate victory of the United Nations, Mr. Haire emphasized that industry must also keep in mind that it should be a forceful factor in winning the peace through the maintenance of free enterprise.
"Now is the time for wise planning," he continued. "Travel is greater than it ever has been. According to the Department of Commerce reports, it is double what it was last year. Executives are traveling and executives want the better quality luggage.
Money Will be Spent
"There will be more money to spend. Despite everything being done to check it, there will be a tremendous increase in earning power. The national income of 1942 will be approximately 112 billions of dollars and a nation-wide survey shows that at least 15 billions of spending money must be absorbed. It will be spent for better food, amusements, diamonds, apparel, recreation and travel.
"The retail shops of this country must fill these orders//You are vital to the upbuilding of national morale. You will have a bigger demand to meet and less with which to meet it. But the money to spend will be there and demanding to be served. "Let us settle clearly and firmly today's problem today. It will help to make us stronger and better able to settle whatever problems may arise in the future."
Leather Becoming Scarce
Outlining the situation in leather, Major Byron emphasized that the needs of war are steadily consuming a greater and greater part of the available supply of heavy hides and with imports declining, the war program must turn to a larger use of domestic hides. He saw little possibility of luggage manufacturers receiving any appreciable amount of leather and suggested to these manufacturers that they experiment with the lighter leathers or substitutes for leather.
"Your industry is using more leather now than it did a year ago," the Major pointed out. "You may have to reduce the amount of leather you are using and you shall have to use your own ingenuity to solve the problems that arise."
Paul Platt, Treasurer of the Association, presided at the Monday afternoon session which was devoted almost entirely to iron and steel restrictions of the War Production Board and price ceilings of the Office of Price Administration.
In the opening address of this session, Frank B. Mitchell of the War Savings Staff of the Treasury Department urged manufacturers to do everything possible to encourage their employees to adopt the payroll allotment plan of purchasing war bonds and stamps.
Use Steel Parts on Hand
L. R. Shafarman, Business Analyst of the Appeals Section of the Iron and Steel Division of the War Production Board, devoted the major part of his address to an explanation of Order M-126, which restricts the use of iron and steel in a wide variety of products. He outlined the critical situation that now exists in the available supply of metals, rubber, silk and wool and said that after allocations of these materials had been made to war purposes, little would be available for civilian manufacturing.
In the question and answer period that followed his formal address, Mr. Shafarman gave luggage and leather goods manufacturers the highly encouraging news that they could continue to use all iron and steel parts they have in stock after August 3. He explained that luggage and leather goods manufacturers were customers of steel and iron fabricators and as such were not subject to the limitations of Order M-126 forbidding the fabrication of steel and iron parts after August 3. He said that so long as manufacturers have steel and iron parts of luggage and trunks in stock, they could continue to use them in the manufacture of their products but could not purchase additional supplies after August 3. The general trend of questions indicated that the great majority of luggage manufacturers have a sufficient supply of these stocks on hand to last them for the greater part of this year. He also pointed out that there was nothing in Order M-126 which restricted the continued use of slide fasteners on the products of the luggage and leather goods industry.
Existing supplies of many other materials like rhinestones and fabrics from Europe, rubbers cement and chemicals for vinyl and other plastics were all that was available for the duration, so designers immediately changed course and brought forth innovative solutions. Old alternatives like wood frames and new ones like corde' rayon replace metal and leather to comply with government restrictions.
This article from the June 1942 issue of Luggage & Leather Goods presents some new wrinkles in handbags design.
Bag Designers Feature New Construction Sans Zippers, Frames
Snaps or Metal
Here they are folks . . . the new Victory Handbags! When the WPB took zippers, metal frames and snap fasteners from the handbag industry, some of our leading manufacturers, instead of bemoaning their fate, started to design along Victory lines. Many interesting, attractive and saleable bags are in the making. We show but a few here because in many cases, designers are waiting for their patents to come through before exploiting their creations.
As everyone knows, WPB regulations affect every member of the hand bag industry. It is gratifying to note that high style as well as volume manufacturers are applying their talents to the creation of new handbag constructions.
"The beautifully tailored, sturdy tan calf bag shown here is one of the more popular priced numbers shown by the exclusive house of Von Altman Purses. Mrs. Von Altman, who designs all the bags for this firm, has a flare for the unusual and dramatic. Even her most exclusive genuine alligators are designed to conform with this new trend. For instance, there is a magnificent black alligator underarm lined in red watersnake. Wide tabs of alligator slip into slots at each end of the bag to form a very secure closing. A large pinseal bag with a draped collar is closed by means of loops and covered buttons, underneath the flap. Another dramatic number is shown in a luscious dark red suede. This underarm has a pleated cuff and is closed with a large covered dressmaker's buckle and tab. This ingenious designer has gone "all-out" on new constructions regardless of price and the line is designed to retail from around $15 to about $75."
"A pannier handle effect is achieved in this corde bag. The top of the bag is concealed under a deep collar. Pull on the tab to release the opening which slides down from under the collar. This is from Plymouth Handbag."
Manufacturers of corde bags have been especially fast to get on the Victory band-wagon. Two entirely new and unique closings are shown here. The bag from Molomut has a closing that will probably become a basic construction with this house. The style photographed is one of two already in line. An envelope with a deep flap and similar tab construction is also available. It is important to note that the extra small tab will prevent the flap from slipping open.
Using no frame, or metal, this top handle corde has a secure flap closing. Extra small tab prevents lock from opening. Inside compartments provide safe place for everything. From I. Molomut.
Queen Leather Goods is patenting a new closing that comprises a strap arrangement. It is being used on six corde Victory styles including an underarm, a thumb handle, a pannier and a top handle.
Although zippers and frames are still available, these bags make headline news. Get them! in stock quickly ... they're attention getters!