Research Seminar: Regina Lee Blaszczyk
This paper examines the synthetics revolution in fashion and fibers within the context of the new field of the history of the senses. The story of the synthetics revolution—the introduction of man-made and test-tube fibers into the textile-fashion supply chain—has most often been told as the story of heroic inventors or the story of the judicious management investment in R&D. In reality, DuPont and other fiber makers of the mid to late twentieth century were also innovative marketers who invested heavily in product development, advertising, motivational research, and promotion. Those efforts, in turn, attempted to tap into and capitalize on the hopes, desires, and concerns of consumers on matters of comfort and convenience.
Regina Lee Blaszczyk is Leadership Chair in the History of Business and Society and Professor of Business History at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on the cultural history of business, with reference to design, fashion, color, retailing, and advertising. Her work connects the history of the creative industries to big historical themes such as globalization, material life and social identity, and consumer culture. She also writes about connections between the global chemical industry, the chemical engineering profession, and the creative sector, and about the history of technology. She is the author of numerous books, including Imagining Consumers: Design and Innovation from Wedgwood to Corning, Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and Consumers (2008), and The Color Revolution (2012).
David Suisman of the University of Delaware will provide introductory comments.
Attendees are encouraged to read Blaszczyk's paper, "The Synthetics Revolution and the Senses," which may be obtained by contacting Carol Lockman at clockman@Hagley.org.
Free, reply requested, call (302) 658-2400, ext. 243, or email Carol Lockman at clockman@Hagley.org.
Header image: DuPont Quana nylon fashion shot, 1970, Hagley Digital Archives.