Polyester is a polymer in which the monomer units are liked by the group COO. Polyesters are used in the manufacture of resins, plastics, and textile fabrics. Polyester fabrics appeared before World War II (1939-45), but were not produced in large quanities for civilian clothing until after the War. The first polyester was nylon which the American Dupont Corporation created in 1938. Many different fabrics appeared, including, Rayon, Terrelyn, and others. Each has its own characteristics, one of
the most important being ease of care. Initially many garments were made in pure polyester fabrics. The garment industry has since developed polyester blends including cotton or wool to obtain the advantages of both natural fabrics and the new synthetic polyester fabrics. British boys are especially familiar with Terreyln worsted which largely replaced flannel
short pants in the 1960s. The Terylene mix in the material used in the make-up in British made shorts pants is about 65 percent polyester/35 percent viscose mix, with only a very small variation on this. The heavier, warmer more expensive shorts are normally 55% polyester and /45 percet wool. The typical differing in trade and manufacturing names means that clothing produced in South Africa for retail in that country are labelled as Trevira and Viscose (in a 65/35 percent mix).
Polyester is a polymer in which the monomer units are liked by the group COO. Polyesters are used in the manufacture of resins, plastics, and textile fabrics.
Polyester fabrics appeared before World War II (1939-45), but were not produced in large quanities for civilian clothing until after the War. The first polyester was nylon which the American Dupont Corporation created in 1938. Many different artificial fabrics appeared, including, Rayon, Terrelyn, and others. Many of these were regeberated fibers. Nylon wa the first true synthetic fiber. Each has its own characteristics, one of the most important being ease of care.
Initially many garments were made in pure polyester fabrics. The garment industry has since developed polyester blends including cotton or wool to obtain the advantages of both natural fabrics and the new synthetic polyester fabrics.
Dupont's nylon was the first commercially sucessSful synthetic fibers. Since since the creation of nylon in 1938, many other polyester fibers have been introduced to produce clothing. The sucess, characteristics,and usage hasvaried widely.
Acrylic fiber was first produced commercially in the United States during 1950 by E.I. du Pont. Acrylic is a synthetic fiber made from a polymer (polyacrylonitrile) that has an average molecular weight of ~100,000, about 1900 monomer units. For a fiber to be called 'acrylic' in the United States, the polymer must contain at least 85 percent acrylonitrile monomer. It has many commercial uses, but is not used extensively for clothing.
Kevlar was invented by Stephanie Louise Kwolek at Dupont. Kevlar is synthesized in solution from the monomers 1,4-phenylene-diamine (para-phenylenediamine) and terephthaloyl chloride in a condensation reaction yielding hydrochloric acid as a byproduct. The result has liquid-crystalline behavior, and mechanical drawing orients the polymer chains in the fiber's direction. It is a material five times stronger than steel. It was first used in racing tires, but soon was devopped asprotective armor for police and soldiers. .
The first hint of a new generation of textile fibers occurred in 1938 when DuPont announced the invention of nylon. The
following year the company introduced nylon at the New York World's Fair and began selling it. Until this time stockings were made from cotton, silk, and wool. Initial production was limited, but stockings and underwear made of nylon began to sell well. Women's hem lines has risen, but modesty was still very important. Nylon stockings soon begn known as 'Nylons' They offered not only a smoother look, but were stonger and eventully cheaper, especially compared to silk. Stores immediately began stocking them (1940). The immediate demand was massive. Some 64 million pairs were sold tht first year. They immediately became a women's wardrobe stapple. Dupont for some reason did not patent nylon. Thus many manufactures produced nylons. Any nylons essentially became synonamous with women's hosiery. Nylons sold very well until the entry of the United States into World War II (December 1941). THe United States at the time had only a small air force and did not have any paratroopers at all. Given the success of the German Luftwaffe and Fallschirmjäger, the United States immediately moved to rapidy expand its air forces as well recruit and train paratroopers. Thus as part of the tansition to a war-time footing, production of the new silky fiber was diverted to military use. Even more imprtant than the paratroopers was the massive expansion of the U.S. airforces. Much of the world's silk production was centered in China and Japan as thus not available to the Allied war effort. Most of the still limited production of nylon was used to produce parachutechutes. They were needed for the American and British paratroop and even more importantly for the massive expansion of air forces which would play a key role in the War. Parachutees were needed for every member of the air crews. Only after the War in the late-1940s did nylon become available in quantity for clothing production. It was first used primarily to produce women's stockings which to this day are still referred to as nylons. [Crosley, p. 16.] Nylon had a streach factor which made them perfectly suitable for hosiery. And women brought them in huge qualtities. In fact at he time, the term 'nylons' was much more common than the name of the material itself. Eventually waist-covering 'panthose' became available. This was an adult female garment. At the time nylons were introduced, children's long stockings were still worn, but araodly going out if style. After the War by the time that nylons were availablw, American children no longer wore long stockings to aany extent. Children wore socks, mostly ankle socks and knee socks. Nylons came in various similar colors: sheer, nude, taupe, cream, tan, and powder. Nylon production and the production ofstockings ar a good example of a seemingly insignificant article of clothing and the activities of ordinary people are in reality the history of a particular era. It is also a good example of the influence of science and technology on people's lives. Only after the War in the late 1940s did nylon become available for clothing production. It was first used primarily to produce women's stockings (which to this day are still referred to as nylons) and underwear. Nylon is today the second most important synthetic fiber after polyester. A reader writes, "We are trying to research if there are any modern uses of weaving nylon or kevlar into denim for jeans? Would you happen to know of any, or know how we could find out? Has the technology changed from the uncomfortable Sears ToughSkins brand jeans?"
HBC has no information on this, but would be interested in any information our readers may have.
Polyolefin/polypropylene was first commercial production of an olefin fiber was in 1961 by Hercules Incorporated. Polyolefin in 1966 became the world's first Nobel-Prize winning fiber. It is used in wallpaper, ropes, and vehicle interiors. Olefin and many useful characteristics, including strength, colourfastness and comfort, its resistance to staining, mildew, abrasion, sunlight and its good bulk and cover.
Spandex fiber was first produced in the United States during 1959 by E. I. du Pont. It is an elastomeric man-made fiber, capable of streaching at least 100 percent and then snapping back like natural rubber. Spandex is employed in filament form. It is also known as Lycra or elastane. Itsdestinctive feature is exceptional elasticity. And it is stronger and more durable than natural rubber. It is a polyester-polyurethane copolymer that was invented in 1958 by chemist Joseph Shivers at DuPont's Benger Laboratory in Waynesboro, Virginia. It is most prominely used in soortswear.
Crosley, Sloane. "Sheermadness: Nylons were a craze when they debuted 75 years ago--but their run is over," Smothsonian (may 2015), pp. 16, 20.
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