Drip Dry!

Synthetic fibres in fashion

Black and white pvc mac

Mac, printed polyvinylchloride (PVC), labelled ‘Delamare’, made and retailed by Tesco, about 1968-70.

From 19 July 2014 

Free entry

A 1990s shell suit and a 1960s 'Beatles dress' are just two of the highlights of this small exhibition looking at how man-made fibres have revolutionised textile manufacture.

Natural fibres such as cotton, linen, silk and wool have been used to make clothing for thousands of years. But over the past 100 years or so, scientists have developed new fibres which have improved upon, replaced or been mixed with these natural fibres.

Man-made materials have a number of properties that make them attractive to designers and consumers alike. They are crease and shrink-resistant and retain their shape very well. The dyes used in their manufacture are colour fast and do not fade quickly. They are easy to keep clean and after washing many of them will drip dry.

The fashions featured in this display represent the many different synthetic fibres that were developed between the 1920s and the 1990s.

Curator talks

Image gallery


Afternoon dress, printed acetate rayon, about 1950-55. Man's shell suit, polyamide, 1994. Dress, Tricel jersey, with 'Beatles' design, retailed by Littlewoods, Liverpool, 1964.