"Resistant as steel, delicate as web" was the sentence used to present the synthetic resin by Wallace H. Carothers, nylon.
The year was 1935 when the American chemist discovered polyamide 6.6, to be used to manufacture a continuous filament similar to silk.
The invention was patented a few years later and, since then, that simple filament established itself in the world of women's fashion, giving rise to a real revolution in the world of women's tights.
The first sale of tights dates back to October 24, 1939, in a Wilmington store in Delaware and the invention of the same was also backed up by a communication campaign aiming leading women to abandon silk tights and buy veiled tights, more comfortable and at zero risk of stretch marks.
In 1940 there was the first national sale of nylon stockings, so acclaimed that May 15, 1940, DuPont named the day the N-Day. The following year, thanks to the success achieved, the era of beauty began...the beauty of a woman's legs.
Despite the huge success, during World War II there was a drastic interruption in the production of nylon stockings for both economic and war reasons, and it was for this very reason that women were urged to donate their stockings for war conversion.
The entire production of nylon was destined to the manufacturing of parachutes.
During that historical period women began to draw stripes on their legs to simulate the sewing of the stockings but, after the war, the nylon stockings were back on the market with great success. The latter became a symbol of seduction and femininity: an essential item of lingerie for any woman.
In the 1950s, there were new developments, in fact, the seams on the back of the stockings were removed, the nude-coloured tights appeared and in 1959 Allen Grant introduced on the markettights that, over time, completely replaced the traditional nylon stockings. The same year DuPont also patented lycra, a material used to make tights more elastic and resistant, which was a great success when matched with Mary Quant's miniskirt and hot pants.
Lycra tights became the socks par excellence as they allowed women to wear a skirt or short dress with refinement and ease. In that historical period, tights underwent a further evolution: the insertion of writing and embroidery. This new development immediately caught the attention of designers who began to consider tights as an essential garment as much as the others.
Despite the boom of the tights, the revolutions of 1968 and feminism, were contrary to this accessory as it was perceived as an instrument of male oppression.
In the 1970s, regardless of prejudices, the lace tights were similarly introduced on the market and between the 1980s and 1990s the leggings, driven by the widespread use of sportswear.
One element that surely supported the seductive power of nylon stockings was cinema that, from the beginning, showed women in veiled stockings ready to express all their charm and their sensuality in lingerie and suspenders.
Among the important film actors that have contributed to the success of the stockings, we can mention Louise Brooks in the silent film Rolled Stockings, Marlene Dietrich in the role of Lola Lola in L 'Angelo Azzurro, Silvana Mangano in the film Riso Amaro or the iconic Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop.
A character to whom, however, we owe the credit for having made nylon stockings a sexy accessory is definitely Sophia Loren in Ieri, Oggi, Domani during the striptease in front of a charming Mastroianni.
In short, the history and success of the tights is certainly fascinating, and the evolutions were remarkable. Today the tights are more than ever the protagonists of outfits and the proposals are increasingly original, refined and evolved.