World Business: Catching Up with Synthetics

A Frenchman created rayon back in 1884, and European textile makers began weaving fabrics out of nylon a year after Du Pont developed it in 1938. But the havoc of World War II and a certain resistance to wash-and-wear and wrinkle-free clothes made Europe lag behind the switch to synthetic fibers that swept the U.S. in the 1950s. Now Europe is making up for lost time. Synthetic fibers have become a $2.6 billion business in Western Europe v. $2.4 billion in the U.S. Close to two dozen new chemical-based fiber plants are being built...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!