Triumph Velure fully-fashioned stockings, 1950-1965.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Two pairs of Velure nylon fully fashioned stockings. Nylon stockings were invented by Du Pont in the late 1930s and first sold in the USA in 1940. However, nylon was needed exclusively to supply the war effort and stockings did not go back fully into production until after the war. At that time, demand far outstripped supply and this was not resolved until 1948. Nylon stockings were manufactured on huge Reading machines - some up to 60 feet long and 12 tons in weight. With 16,000 needles per machine they need constant attention and can take one hour to produce only 30 stocking legs. The peak period for nylon stockings was 1950 to 1965, after which the fashion for short skirts, and the resulting visible stocking tops, led to a demand for pantyhose.