Paper Clothing: A Look Back to Look Forward

paper clothing

Image via GOOD Magazine and Sera Lindsey

Good Magazine writer Allen Salkin takes a look at paper clothing in his article “Who Killed Paper Clothing? A Modest Proposal on How Clothing Might Be Reborn” pointing out the environmental significance of paper apparel and fast fashion.

Salkin also points out it was once a very invested in industry.

“Mid-1967 was the apogee of paper wearables. You would have seen news of this peculiar revolution. There was a feature in LIFE magazine titled, “Wastebasket Dresses.” One company’s fabric, Kaycel, had “a slightly bumpy surface resembling paper toweling, though its next-of-kin is actually Kleenex.” According to the magazine, Kaycel was made up of 93 percent cellulose wadding—like Kleenex—plus seven percent nylon, pressed inside to impart strength and “drapability,” but not impairing an owner from shortening the dress with a pair of scissors or lengthening it “by pasting on trim, like lace on a valentine.”

At an annual shareholders meeting, the chief executive of a joint venture between Kimberly-Clark (among their products: glossy, coated paper for Playboy magazine) and textile-maker J.P. Stevens Co. called paper wearables “a significant field.” Although total paper garment sales were only around $3 million for 1966, a tiny share of a $30 billion women’s apparel industry, 60 manufacturers had rushed into the paper fabric business, and there were predictions that revenues would soon grow to $50-$100 million a year.”

The article lends weight to whether we might embrace disposable fashion by looking at the past. Could paper clothing, as science fiction-y as it was back in the 60s, be part of a solution to our modern day other worldy amounts of textile waste today?

You decide. Read the full article here and comment on our Facebook page here.