Heralding the “World of Tomorrow”, World Expo 1939 New York introduced the public to a wide range of consumer goods, offering a modern new era of accessible comfort. Among these new products were nylon stockings, an innovative item of clothing that went on to revolutionise wardrobes and fashion.
In the late 1920s and 1930s, chemical company DuPont developed nylon as a synthetic polymer, which became known as the “fibre of the future” due to its strength and versatility. It was first commercialised for products such as fishing lines and surgical sutures, but it was not until 1939 that DuPont launched its nylon stockings, at the World Expo in New York.
In the DuPont pavilion, female visitors were encouraged to test the resilience of the stockings, and they quickly caused a sensation as a practical and affordable alternative to silk stockings. The launch was accompanied by vast marketing campaign introducing the revolutionary material as “stronger than steel” and “run-proof”.
With distribution limited until 15 May 1940, the first stores in which nylon stockings were available sold out within hours, with four million pairs sold in just four days.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.