Shortages of wool during World War II gave impetus to research into regenerated protein fibers. One result was the milk protein fiber Aralac. Aralac was produced by the National Dairy Products Corp in the early 1940s and was used for a wide variety of garments as well as hats and blankets. It made the advertising pages of Vogue, but consumers complained that when it got wet it smelled like sour milk!
HBC is unsure to whay extent Aralac was used in children's clothes. Resercher Mary Brooks tells us, "I have a reference to a toddler's coat made by Hugo Freund & Son lining 100 percent Aralac. [Rayon Textile Monthly, September 1942, p. 66 (522).] It is hard to tell from the photograph whether this coat was intended for a boy or girl."
Mary M Brooks, a textile researcher/conservator, Senior Lecturer University of Southampton (currently based at the Getty Conservation Institute), is studying regenerated protein fibers made in America during the 1940s and 1950s. Her aim is to explore the history of these innovative fibers with the intention of developing protocols so that those textiles in museum collections made from unusual sources such as milk, soy bean protein, ground nuts or corn can be identified and appropriately preserved. She is especially interested in information about clothing produced from Aralac. Interested readers can contact HBC.
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