Viola Hofmann

“This is Perlon calling”

The teething problems of a new textile fiber in the 1950s

 

Ferrum 89/2017

In the 1950s and 1960s, West Germany‘s synthetic fiber industry geared up to establish the polyamides 6 and 6.6 on the consumer market. The aim was to position the new synthetic fibers as an alternative to the well-known cellulose fibers in textile and clothing manufacturing and also as a competitor to natural fibers. However, the hoped-for demand that would send the revolutionary material “into orbit” never materialized. Consumer response was muted. In the 1950s the new textile fiber was still unknown to consumers and had not yet proven itself. The manufacturers banded together to promote polyamides through joint advertising. They had to invent an entirely new material discourse in order to persuade consumers. The invention of the Perlon brand was one of many measures taken to furnish the new synthetic fiber with its own narrative.

 

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