Nylon: the miracle fiber

Where would we be without nylon? Nylon can be spelled without a capital “n” because it is a generic name for polyamide yarn. By the time Dupont de Nemours Inc. decided to register the name, it was already so popular and widely used that the word was part of the common language and therefore could no longer be registered. This is how quickly nylon found its way into the consumer world right after its invention in 1938 as the first synthetic yarn. One of the first applications for this fine and strong yarn that looked like, but did not feel like silk, were stockings (although the very first application was actually the tooth brush). Suddenly middle class working women had access to leg embellishments at a reasonable cost with a stocking even more long lasting than silk, thanks to nylon’s puncture resistance.

Soon after its introduction to the world, the Second World War broke out leading to all kinds of new applications with a material that could be made industrially without depending on imports. Very popular for parachutes because of its light weight, nylon was not initially introduced in combat gear where wool, cotton and leather were still dominant. When nylon did make its entry into the garment industry, it was rapidly identified as uncomfortable because of the filament nature of its yarn and its low water absorption capacities. Nylon’s use in garments was targeted to the outer shells, such as jackets and over pants, until yarn blends were later introduced. Still today nylon is found in clothing and lingerie and marries durability with comfort.

Nylon comes in all kinds of denier and is used in a multitude of ways. It has become intertwined in the soldiers combat gear from the boot to the rock sack, from the fragmentation vest to the personal camouflage net. After 65 years of intense and continuous use throughout the world, nylon remains the most ever produced yarn and by far, the most popular.

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