This 1939 #TextileTuesday photograph is from the public debut of nylon hosiery. The product was first introduced to consumers at the Golden Gate International Exposition which opened on San Francisco's Treasure Island February 18, 1939. Stockings also were displayed later that year at the New York World’s Fair.
Nylon, a generic designation for a range of synthetic polymer fabrics, was commercially introduced by the DuPont Company on October 27, 1938. This announcement followed years of research into polymer fabrics that first began in 1927, when the company made the decision to split its chemical department into a collection of small research teams, each tasked with conducting research into practical applications for scientific discoveries and specific market goals.
This image is part of our collection of DuPont Textile Fibers Product Information photographs (Accession 1984.259). The Textile Fibers Department of the DuPont Company, established in 1936 as the Rayon Department, specialized in researching and developing synthetic fibers for fabrics such as Rayon, Nylon, Teflon, Corian, and Kevlar.
This collection consists of the Fabric master files and Textile reference files maintained by the Product Information Department, a division of DuPont organized in 1952 within the Public Relations Department. Its main purpose was to create news releases accompanied by photographs that would be run editorially by trade journals and newspapers to create inexpensive publicity and indirect advertising.
To be used, the news releases had to include genuinely interesting information about a DuPont product, its development, manufacture, or applications. Direct commercial promotions of products, however, remained the work of the Advertising Department.
Public Relations staff members in Product Information were assigned to specific operating departments, and they reported jointly to the heads of PR and the specific department. Product Information for Textile Fibers was handled out of that department's office in New York City's Empire State Building. This section also issued photographs and press releases for editorial use. These were designed to establish and strengthen in the reader's mind the connection between DuPont, as a maker of fibers, and the garment and fashion industry.
This collection has been partially digitized; you can view a selection of images from it in our Digital Archive by clicking here.