War Rationing, Nylon vs. Rayon Stockings

Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Media, Vintage Style, WW2 | 3 comments

There was no lag in Mom’s memory about this one. “We wore rayon.” My curiosity is aroused. What was this actually like? How did rayon feel on the skin? How much was the difference? I want to test the rayon vs. nylon vs. silk.

Rayon Stocking Ad

Rayon Rayon Rayon
Lewiston Daily Sun 2/18/43

A Nylon History Society website states: Originally, fashion stockings were made from either silk or cotton. Rayon was the first attempt to have a manufactured material replace silk but it was a poor product for stockings. DuPont’s Fiber 6,6 which later was called Nylon, was the first true synthetic fiber invented. Not only did the fiber have amazing properties, the fiber could be created on demand in a factory. Stockings were one of the first products to use this new fiber.

Stockings made from the new fiber 6,6 were introduced to the world in 1939. Both at the Expo on the West Coast and the World Fair on the East Coast. May 15, 1940 was the first official release of the new nylon stocking for public sale. No consumer item before had caused such a nationwide pandemonium. Women loved them and men loved women wearing them, how they looked and felt. By the end of the year, 64 million pairs of nylon stockings were sold.

After just a few years of production, when the United States got involved with WWII, all nylon production went to the war effort. Nylon was used to make materials in the war such as parachutes and ropes. Silk was also unavailable so rayon stockings were produced. Women also would shave their legs and use makeup to simulate stockings and a Nylon Black Market formed.

When the war ended, nylon went back into stocking production. The demand for stockings was so great that fights would break out at stores. These fights became known as Nylon Riots. It took a year for production to start catching up with demand. Resource for info on stockings: http://www.orgsites.com/oh/nylon-stocking-society/

3 Comments

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