MARKETING: Synthetic Rebirth

Two years ago, synthetic leather seemed likely to appear in business histories only as an example of a rare product-development blunder by Du Pont. Corfam, its much touted leather lookalike, brought out in 1964, was expected to do for shoes what nylon had done for stockings. But demand never rose as much as Du Pont had hoped, partly because consumers complained that Corfam shoes pinched and roasted their feet. By 1971 Du Pont admitted defeat and wrote off the effort as a $100 million bust. Now it appears that Du Pont's real mistake...

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