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Ever wonder when a vintage fashion item was made?

(Who hasn’t?)

There are many tips for helping you to determine the era of your item. You can consult the VFG article Quick Tips for Dating Vintage and you are always welcome to visit our forums to ask for assistance.

Another tip is to go from the fabric perspective. Do you know the fiber used for the fabric of your vintage article of clothing? Here’s a helpful summary of how to burn test small swatches from an inconspicuous place on your item to determine the fiber.

Natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk and linen) have all been used to make fabric for a very long time. For instance, the domestication of wild sheep took place sometime before 6,000 B.C.E., and the earliest wool fleece and fibers positively identified date from about 4,000 B.C.E.

However, manufactured fibers have very specific, and relatively recent appearances on the fabric scene.

These dates represent the first commercial use of the manufactured fibers. Click on each of the fiber names for a more in-depth history.

1905 rayon in the U.K.

1910 rayon in the U.S.

1918 acetate in the U.K. (called celanese)

1924 acetate in the U.S. (trademarked Celanese)
1939 nylon
1939 vinyon
1950 acrylic
1953 polyester
1953 acetate and rayon given separate groupings by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission

1954 triacetate
Late 50s Modal
1959 Spandex
1961 Olefin
1993 Lyocell

Written by Maggie Wilds/denisebrain

Women demonstrating nylon stockings at the 1939 San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition/DuPont Textile Fibers Product Information photographs (Accession 1984.259), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library