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Nylon Stocking

  • ca. 1937
  • Manufactured by E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
  • 7 in. W x 34 in. L
  • On display in Making Modernity
  • Gift of Joseph X. Labovsky
  • The Joseph X. Labovsky Collection
  • 2004.543.195


In the mid-1930s American women were spending $475 million annually on silk stockings. Most silk came from Japan, a source in jeopardy by the late 1930s. Nylon fiber from DuPont’s "mechanical silkworm" gave hosiery makers a substitute. When nylon stockings hit the market in 1940, they were just as expensive as silk, but they were eagerly embraced by women who thought they would not run.

Nylon, developed in the late 1930s by a team headed by Wallace Carothers at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, was the first totally synthetic fiber. Developed as a replacement for natural silk, nylon is a simple monomer-chain polymer created by polymerizing a polyamide in a salt mixture.

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