Nylon stockings take their bow

Stockings were an instant hit when they were first sold on October 27th 1939.

Stockings made of nylon were produced from 1939 and the first women to try them were DuPont employees. To test the market, samples were put on offer locally. The first major sales test was at a Wilmington department store in October. It went extremely well, the company opened a specialist stockings factory and soon women all over America were demanding the glamorous new products as replacements for the stockings, mostly made of wool or cotton, that many of them had been wearing. 

When nylon stockings first went on sale in New York City, around 800,000 pairs were sold on the first day and by 1941 sales numbered 64 million pairs. DuPont had not registered the name nylon as a trademark as it hoped that ‘nylons’ would become a synonym for ‘stockings’, which to an extent it did. 

During the war nylon was needed to make parachutes, flak vests and other equipment and nylon stockings were in short supply. Some women painted their legs to look like nylons and used black eye-liner to draw a seam up the back. US soldiers stationed in England encountered women who found nylon stockings a turn-on and there has been speculation about how many wartime babies could trace their existence back to a gift of nylons. Since then nylon has been used to make musical instrument strings, carpets, packaging paper and many other things. It was one of the great inventions of the 20th century.