The History of Polyester Fabric


The mere mention of the word polyester can make people cringe. Even though the synthetic fiber has come a long way since its Brady Bunch days, people associate it with cheap and gaudy clothing, according to the Peter Schwartz Polyester site. That was not always the case, nor will that necessarily stay the case in the future.


  • Polyester is a group of polymers formed by combining carboxyl acids with alcohols, according to Peter Schwartz's Polyester site. DuPont employee W.H. Carothers originally discovered this phenomenon but put the idea aside when he came up with nylon. A group of scientists from England took over the polyester project and in 1941 came up with Terylene, the first polyester fabric. DuPont bought out all polyester rights in 1946 and developed their version, called Dacron. The American public was first exposed to polyester in 1951.


  • Polyester was hailed as a magic fiber, a miracle fiber, according to both Peter Schwartz and the Orlando Sentinel websites. It needs no ironing, never wrinkles and washes well. Polyester marketers claimed it could be worn for 68 days in a row and still look good. Another key selling point was the price. Polyester was cheap. It was none too difficult to make, either, and a number of companies started churning out inexpensive polyester clothes. A brief attempt at a polyester revival in the early 1980s failed.


  • Polyester had its American heyday in the 1960s, then fell from fashion grace. Folks were clamoring for the fabric soon after its 1950s arrival, according to Peter Schwartz's Polyester site. What began as a highly popular fabric worn by such notable TV stars as the Brady Bunch soon became scorned. Thanks to the creation of polyester's double-knit fabric, Schwartz said, polyester declined in popularity. The dozens of factories churning out chintzy polyester items didn't help, either.


  • Polyester fell further out of American favor by folks who chose to wear only natural fibers, such as cotton and linen, according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel. While the current eco-movement may ensure folks will continue to scoff at polyester, some could not tell the difference between polyester and some natural fibers. A Hoechst Fibers Industries series of touch tests in the early 1980s concluded that 89 percent of those tested were unable to differentiate between polyester and wool, silk, cotton and flax.

Continued Use

  • Although polyester's reputation as a fashionable fabric was marred, folks are still buying polyester, according to a pie chart on Schwartz's site. In the 1990s, American customers snapped up a number of polyester items, including clothing. In fact, 39 percent of polyester sales were for clothing items, such as underwear and pajamas, followed by 38 percent for industrial and consumer textiles, such as upholstery and laundry bags. Nearly 17 percent of sales were for household, institutional and interior textiles, such as curtains, sheets and towels, while 5 percent went for polyester rugs and carpets.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit draperies image by Pavel Losevsky from
Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • Why Are Rugby Shirts Made of Polyester?

    Rugby is a team sport played with an egg-shaped ball that is thrown and kicked. Players wear uniforms of shirts, shorts, high...

  • What Is a Synthetic Polyester Fabric?

    Polyester fabric is, by definition, synthetic: a fabric made by chemical synthesis rather than from natural materials (such as wool, cotton, linen,...

  • Definition of Polyester Staple Fiber

    Polyester staple fiber is a material produced from synthetic chemical compounds with a variety of uses in the textile, automotive and furniture...

  • Definition of Polyester Fabric

    Polyester is a petroleum-based fiber, known for its strength, resistance to abrasion and its low absorbency.

  • What Is Polyester Fabric Made From?

    Polyester is a durable, easy-care synthetic fabric made from petroleum byproducts. It can be manufactured in a variety of weights and textures....

  • How to Create Your Own Dryer Sheets

    Why keep on buying dryer sheets to put in your automatic dryer at home? I have used these homemade dryer sheets for...

  • How to Test Polyester Fabric

    Polyester is a synthetic material that was invented in 1941 and created from oil products. This versatile fabric is known for strength...

  • Characteristics of Polyester & Cotton

    Cotton is a natural fabric harvested from crops, whereas polyester is a man-made polymer derived from natural chemicals. For decades, clothing manufacturers...

Related Searches

Check It Out

This Is the Beauty Routine of an Ex-Pat in China

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!