The History of the Nylons

Back in 1939, a new kind of stocking was introduced at the “Expo of the West Coast” and “World Fair on the East Coast” (USA). However, the official launch date for the nylon stocking was May 15 1940. The nylons were manufactured using a new method, when the Nylon fabric was flat knitted, then cut and shaped after a leg shape then they were put together with a seam on the back. They became known as “Full-Fashioned” Nylon Stockings. Before the year had ended, a stunning 64 million pairs had been sold across USA.

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A short time after that, USA was drawn in to the WWII and all production of Nylon was immediately redirected to the military industry, where lot of it became material for parachutes. Since Silk was virtually impossible to get a hold of, the stocking manufacturers started experimenting with other synthetic fibers to keep up the production. One of those was called Rayon, but these yarns never had the same lustre, feel or quality as the real Nylon.

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Since it was restriction times and Nylons were almost impossible to get a hold of, many women started using leg makeup and paint seams on their legs to create the illusion that they wore real stockings. Nylons wash´t just the highest fashion accessory – they also catched an enormous amount of admirers eyes where ever seen. Nylons became an self-evident symbol for femininity. Skärmavbild 2014-01-17 kl. 11.10.32 The demand for stockings was huge, and pretty soon a black market started to emerge where real Nylons were sold to the highest bidder. Skärmavbild 2014-01-17 kl. 11.11.35

After the war had ended the manufacturing could start again. Since the demand was so enormous, women were literally fighting to get a pair when there were any in the shelves in the stores. These fights came to be knows as the “Nylon Riots”. It took almost a full year before the manufacturers could produce such quantities that was needed for the demand.

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In the beginning of the 60’s, the market share of stockings was 80%. But since the launch of the mini skirt, and the over all shorter length of the skirts was in fashion, the practical and comfortable pantyhose was introduced. That forced the stocking manufactures to come up with new designs and features in order to keep up with the competition. One this they did was to lengthen the stockings, and they made the welt narrower. A new kind of stretch-nylon was also introduced. Other new stocking related products came along, improved garters and other ways of keeping the stockings in place.

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One of those inventions was the girdle. But the battle against the pantyhose was lost, and in the end of the 60’s the pantyhose had an 80% market share. Because of this, the production slowed down drastically and 1969 the mill at Textile Machine Works, USA, was shut down for good.

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Many years later, 4 huge cargo crates containing the 20 meter long and 17 tons heavy are flown from Reading Machines, Pennsylvania to England. The man who bought the machine was an enthusiast by the name Frank Wilkinson, who happened to be an old Full-Fashion technician trained at the Reading mills just before the war. Frank who was a regarded business man, had a dream to take on the manufacturing of real nylons again, and so he did. In 1993 he opened up the factory again together with his son. Today they manufacture authentic nylon stockings in one of the very last operational Reading Machines in the world, using the same method as back in the 1950’s.

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Every stocking is controlled at five separate stages in the production. After that they are steam heated after a leg shape to get all wrinkles away and guarantee a perfect shape. Finally they are checked again before they are being put in their package. When you buy Vintage Wonderland stockings, you become a part of the history. It doesn´t get more authentic than this. Enjoy!