As for nylon, it is undeniably one of the most interesting textiles in the history of fashion. So it’s only fitting that the humble fabric has become one of the most popular styles for bags and accessories in 2021. Unusual times call for unusual fashion, and nylon certainly encompasses it all. It’s almost apocalyptic; it is sturdy, water resistant, affordable and suitable for a range of items from couture dresses to everyday bags.
For the fall 2021 season, the high and low brands have adopted the nylon bag. There was Sacai’s nylon utility backpack, McQueen logo crossbody bags, Marni’s quilted mini tote bags, and Miu Miu’s starry quilted tote bag in lilac and hot pink, fit for a chic retro ski chalet.
Although nylon was officially invented in 1938, nylon could be most closely associated with World War II, when rations switched from silk stockings to nylon due to its affordability and the fact that it was more easy to maintain. “Nylon may be experiencing a resurgence right now for the same reason; it’s an affordable alternative, and it offers ease of use and maintenance, ”explains Sarah Collins, fashion professor at SCAD. “Coming out of a time of conflict and uncertainty, like World War II, or let’s say a pandemic, consumers are focusing on the wise use of their funds.”
By the 1950s, nylon was present in everything from sets of sweaters and men’s suits to faux fur coats and petticoats. And in 1955, nylon had already caused a sensation on the Parisian catwalks. Coco Chanel, Jean Patou and Christian Dior started using synthetic fibers from DuPont (the inventor of nylon). Photographer Horst P. Horst was hired to document the use of nylon and other synthetic materials by the world’s leading designers, including Nina Ricci, Emanuel Ungaro, Pierre Cardin, and Madame Grès in the late 1950s. And once the ’60s launched, the material provided the perfect structure and shine for Courrèges’s atomic looks.
But as Collins also explains, “Nylon handbags are a relatively modern fad, so they have a short history. While plastics like lucite were used in the 1950s for handbags, nylon was not often used in women’s handbags until Prada. The brand launched the Vela, also known as the now iconic Prada nylon backpack, in 1984. Today, you can find almost everything from Prada in nifty nylon: skirts, dresses, headbands, even hats and down jackets. In 2019, the brand introduced Re-Nylon, a sustainable alternative to its nylon parts of the past. Each item is made from Econyl, a sustainable yarn made from waste.
Of course, it would be impossible to ignore the effect of the year 2000 on fashion and, consequently, on nylon. Scroll down TikTok and you’ll see a sea of Prada reissue bags, which, as the name suggests, are new iterations of Prada bags once released in 2000, 2005 and 2006. ’90s wore, ”Collins adds. . “They see the ubiquitous nylon bags and mini backpacks and want to replicate that style today.” And with more and more emerging designers from Sunnei to Marine Serre experimenting with fabric, it’s no wonder Gen Z are drawn to all things nylon.
Shop for the best nylon bags and accessories below.