History of Polyester
Scrunch it, pull it, wash it – without any wear and wrinkles. That’s
what polyester became famous for. Polyester was the fabric of choice in a
changing economy of speed, efficiency and convenience. If the food
industry produced fries and coke, the textile industry supplemented it
with Polyester – quick, cheap and easy.
It was in 1946 that duPont bought all legal rights from ICI. In
1950, the Dealware property of duPont manufactured another polyester
fiber, which they named Dacron. Mylar was introduced in 1952. Polyester
was first introduced to the American public in 1951 as the magical
fabric that needed no ironing! PET and PEN are duPont trademarks that
have turned the use and consumption of Polyester around.
It was W.H.Carothers who discovered that alcohols and carboxyl
acids could be successfully mixed to create fibers. Carothers was
working for duPont at the time and unfortunately when he discovered
Nylon, polyester took a back seat.
Polyester Becomes Popular
Subsequent to the development of Terylene and Dacron, Kodel was developed by Eastman Chemical Products, Inc in 1958.
The polyester market underwent rapid expansion and textile mills
emerged everywhere. Many of the mills were located at small gas stations
and produced cheap polyester apparel. The inexpensive and durable fiber
became very popular and the industry expanded rapidly till the 1970s.
Unfortunately, the infamous double-knit polyester image hit the industry
and polyester soon came to be known as the uncomfortable fabric.
Today, polyester is largely regarded as a cheap fabric that is rather uncomfortable for sensitive human skin to wear.
However, the emergence of luxury fibers like polyester microfiber
and various polyester blends the industry is experiencing resurgence.
The Tennessee Eastman Company and the Man-Made Fiber Producers’
Association’s (MMFPA) Polyester Fashion Council played a significant
role in the revival of polyester. The Tennessee Eastman Company started a
YES campaign for polYESter and popularized it via radio and television.
The idea was to focus on the wash and go properties of polyester rather
than sell it as a cheap fabric.
Hoechst Fibers Industries also played a part. They conducted
various studies from 1981 to 1983 and found that 89% of people could not
distinguish between polyester and other natural fibers like cotton,
wool and silk. Also, it was found that people were more interested in
the appearance of the apparel than the fabric it was made of.
Today, the biggest contributor to the appeal of polyester is the
discovery of microfibers. Microfibers give polyester the feel of silk
and are rapidly becoming the choice of fabric. With an expensive tag to
match, the cheap image of polyester seems to be on it’s way out. Here’s
to heralding a new era in the history of polyester!