Knowing the fabric that your fashion apparel is made with is a major part of owning a boutique. Now that we’ve gone over polyester and rayon, this third blog of a four-part series will discuss the details of acrylic and nylon, which are both widely used in the fashion industry today.
Acrylic and nylon are both synthetic fabrics, with very different histories and features. Made in similar ways, they both were created in the USA, by the American Dupont Corporation. Acrylic was created to mimic wool, and nylon was created to help find alternatives to silk and hemp for parachutes in World War II (WW2). Let’s dive a little more into the characteristics of each.
Acrylic is made of acrylonitrile, a liquid that is derived from polypropylene plastic. Like many other synthetic fibers, the American DuPont Corporation developed this fiber in the 1940’s to replace wool but it didn’t become popular until the 1950’s. Acrylic isn’t just used in clothing though, you can find it in upholstery, rugs, luggage, blankets and even stuffed animals.
Acrylic is an easy to clean, durable fabric, meaning your acrylic sweater will last longer than its more expensive wool counterpart. But be careful before placing acrylic-made clothes in the dryer. Most care labels instruct to either lay flat to dry or hang to dry. Acrylic is moisture wicking, shrink and wrinkle resistant when cared for properly, and moths will not find a meal with your acrylic sweater.
Everyone knows that wool can be itchy, but you won’t find that to be the case with acrylic. With a luxurious appearance, acrylic has a soft touch and drapes easily. It also provides warmth without being too heavy. Perfect for cold winter months, beanies, gloves and other accessories are commonly made of acrylic or acrylic blends. Polyester is commonly blended with acrylic to enhance softness, but 100% acrylic will still have a cotton feel and drape nicely. An example is this color gradient sweater below:
Nylon: The King of Blends
Nylon has a very different history than acrylic. Nylon is made of synthetic polymers and was created as an alternative to silk and hemp for parachutes in WW2. After the war there was a shortage of materials such as cotton and silk, so many people began to make dresses out of repurposed nylon parachutes. This spurred the idea to use nylon in women’s clothing as a low-cost and durable substitute for silk. Nylon stockings and women’s lingerie also picked up the pace during this time.
Nylon was originally created in the 1920’s by the American Dupont Corporation. Nylon is an extremely durable and lightweight fabric. With fast drying capabilities and low moisture absorption, it is an ideal fabric for work-out and sporting clothing. Nylon by itself will feel soft and silky to the touch.
Nylon would have been considered a failed experiment had the producers not mixed it with other textiles. Today, most nylon products are a blend of fabrics. Polyester, spandex and cotton are the most common fabrics blended with nylon. A blend of 92% nylon and 8% spandex is very popular and feels soft to the touch, but it tends to be slightly textured and stretchy making it drape well. An example is this sunset orange paisley halter top below:
Acrylic and nylon are both staples in the fashion industry. Acrylic is a good option for chilly mid to heavy-weight weather clothing, but without the wool price tag. Nylon is used in many different types of clothing, from blouses and dresses to swimwear. In fact, it would be rare if you didn’t have something made of nylon in your wardrobe.
Knowing the key features of these multi-purpose synthetic fabrics will be helpful in your journey as a boutique owner, especially when describing clothes in person or during a “live sale” online.
In the final post of this “Know Your Fabric” blog series, we will discuss the characteristics of probably one of the most well-known fabrics: cotton. If you have any questions, feel free to email Bloom Dropship at: firstname.lastname@example.org