Fascinating read from Works in Progress on the history of polyester in the garment industry and how, after being deemed gauche by tastemakers in the late 1970s, the fabric returned to the spotlight only a few years later when Americans dove headfirst into their first fitness era. Later on, the piece discusses the material’s environmental impact, which has become especially important to brands and their customers over the last decade.
By 1982 an innovation revolution was already underway that would change how consumers thought about polyester and how companies produced it. But neither journalists nor marketers noticed. They were still imagining synthetic fibers the old-fashioned way: as something chemists cooked up and marketers found a use for. That model wasn’t much different from the way wool or cotton had worked. The fiber existed and people figured out things to do with it. The technical challenges were equally ancient. How do you lower costs and speed up production? How do you keep fabrics colorful, clean, and in good repair? You pleased consumers by holding down prices, minimizing domestic labor, and staying abreast of fashion.
The new model turned the questions around. It started with a problem and asked textile makers to solve it. The problem wouldn’t be about the cloth but about the wearer’s body. The fabric had to be more than color-fast, clean, or cheap. It had to keep the user cool or warm or dry, undistracted by physical discomfort and the energy toll of weight. The imagined customer wasn’t a housewife tired of laundry or a fashionista looking for the next big thing. It was a skier, a jogger, or a basketball player. Polyester triumphed by becoming a performance textile. ‘It moved from being disco to sporty’, says Amanda Briggs, a designer and trend consultant who spent three decades at Nike. By answering the demands of outdoor enthusiasts and athletes, polyester developed attributes that pleased just about everyone.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.