Inventions by Women in the Fashion Industry

From setting fashion trends to building fashion brands, women have contributed many things to the fashion industry that they are rarely acknowledged or celebrated for. In honor of International Women’s Day, these are some inventions by women that have contributed greatly to the fashion industry. 

Paper-Bag-Making Machine

Think about the last time you brought home a paper bag, whether it was filled with groceries, your lunch, or an impulse purchase from a store. Have you ever wondered how the paper bag was made? It takes an entire machine to do so! 

  The paper-bag-making machine was invented by Margaret Knight. It began as a shuttle restraint system. She filed for a patent of her invention, and even defended her ownership of the invention in a legal battle against a competitor! The original model of the paper-bag-making machine can be seen today at the Smithsonian Museum. 

Ironing Board

Have you ever used an ironing board to straighten out wrinkles in a dress or suit? This invention may be of interest to you! Before the ironing board, dressmakers used a wooden plank stretched across two chairs to iron clothes. All that changed with the invention of the ironing board, invented by Sarah Boone

  The ironing board was designed to improve the quality of ironing the sleeves and bodies of women’s garments. She became one of the first African American women to be awarded a patent for her invention. 

Bulletproof Fiber

Kevlar vests have saved countless lives and prevented many injuries. They have been mainly used among police officers. Although the material of Kevlar itself is most well-known for being used for bulletproof vests, it has also been used in various other types of body armor.

  Kevlar was invented by Stephanie Kwolek, who created it while working on specialty fibers for DuPont. The company had been searching for strong, lightweight fibers that could replace steel in car tires.

Naturally Colored Cotton

These days, cotton can be dyed in all sorts of different colors. Naturally colored cotton shades are green, tan, brown, and reddish-brown. Prior to the invention of Foxfibre cotton, naturally colored cotton was only spun by hand.

  This concept of Foxfibre cotton was invented by Sally Fox, who came up with the idea while working as a pollinator for a cotton breeder. Foxfibre is a more environmentally friendly product. Fox received Plant Variety Protection Certificates, the equivalent of a patent, for her work. 

Celebrating Women

Sustainable fabric and machines that increase efficiency in the process of creating clothes are just some of the many contributions that women have made to the fashion industry. Although most of the women who invented these fashion items have passed away, their legacy and memory lives on through their inventions. 

If you enjoyed this article, you might like to read about how fashion empowers women. Happy International Women’s Day!

By Anna Swatski

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