In the 1940s, as the world was preoccupied with the World War II, the dynamics of society had changed once again. Women became more actively engaged in social causes and represented a growing part of the workforce. There was not much room left for over-the-top femininity, long skirts, or petite purses with sparkling gems. The broad-shouldered Retro fashion and shorter hemlines replaced the graceful look of the 1930s. It did not take long for handbag designs to catch up with the general trend. From stylish and whimsical, decorative and elite, they became bold, large and useful. They showcased practicality and noticeable lack or ornamentation. Simplicity and durability were the highlights of the Retro style, with the emphasis on the casual, daytime wear and the growing trend toward oversized, tuck-under-the-arm types, as well as the smaller, double-handled shoppers trimmed with Bakelite. Ironically, despite the restrictions on leather during the war, both in Europe and the U.S., the bags grew five time larger, sometimes over 13" long! Makers argued that the gigantic size was a necessity rather than fashion trend emerging from France, where Parisian ladies presumably because of the lack of cars or taxis needed larger bags to fit the newly required papers that did not exist before the war... A major fascination with alligator and crocodile had begun in the late 1940s. Because European imports were halted during the WWII, French originals predominant since the 1920s were replaced by the domestic American production by the mid-1940s, and later by the Latin American imports. Consequently, the change resulted into rapid growth of existing domestic makers, as well as the development of new brands. Also, the number of upscale department stores started selling quality merchandise under their own, newly established labels.
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