24 Feb 2023
TIGHTS AND STOCKINGS IN HISTORY
Nylon and Lycra in hosiery
The birth of the tights, as it is understood in the modern sense, dates back to the Middle Ages, when silk began to be applied to produce this type of garment. However, as in previous centuries, only men wore them, but when women were allowed to show their legs, stockings began to be part of the wardrobe, until they became - in the veiled versions in silk – symbol of luxury.
A luxury obviously intended for a few women. Until in the 1920s, with the invention of rayon - renamed "artificial silk" - relatively sheer stockings became accessible to a wider segment of the population. These were stockings produced with the shaped and sewn knit system.
But we had to wait until the end of the Thirties to witness a real revolution which the French chemistry Eleuthère Irénée DuPont de Nemours certainly did not think of, when – an immigrant in the American state of Delware – he opened a plant for the production of black powder. It was precisely from that small family-run business that in 1938 came the nylon invented by Wallace H. Carothers, the first synthetic fiber that was defined as "strong as steel and delicate as a spider's net".
The following year, nylon stockings began to be sold in a few shops in Wilmington, the center where Du Pont de Nemours was based.
In 1940, with the start of the Second World War, the production of nylon stockings in the finer counts was stopped and women ended up drawing on their legs that back seam that characterized their beloved daily companions. After the conflict, they reappeared in all their desirability: long queues of women formed in front of the shops.
POST WAR STOCKINGS
The Fifties bring with them a new revolution that immediately spreads in the United States and Europe, that of seamless stockings, which are enriched with new presenations and different colors, while technological progress makes nylon less expensive and, therefore, more accessible. With the Sixties comes the second revolution in the world of hosiery: it is once again signed by DuPont. The American giant launches its Lycra elastane on the market.
Initially, the fiber was used in medical stockings, but when André Courrèges and Mary Quant launched the miniskirt in the first half of 1965, pantyhose became more desired thanks also to its better fit. The opaque pantyhose imposes itself as a new fashion topic, the result of the encounter between the technology of the circular knit and the new textured nylon yarns.
In the following periods, technique and fashion continue to go hand in hand, reviving the market scene with the advent of lace stockings and tights in the Seventies, imposing elegant sheers with a silky appearance in the Eighties and culminating in the search for maximum comfort in the Nineties.
Today the success of tights is the result of an exemplary mix of taste, technological innovation, careful selection of raw materials and quality workmanship. Behind this success there is a district, which is concentrated in Castel Goffredo, in the province of Mantua. In that area defined as "the capital of hosiery", we find big brands and smaller companies side by side, thus sharing that widespread knowledge "which translates scientific knowledge into what people know how to do and which grows and renews itself thanks to the intertwining of family and friendship relationships".