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Philly exhibit tells how textile innovation makes our lives better

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STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

Wow, have we come a long way in 100 years.
Witness the latest exhibition at The Museum at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, “Second Skin: The Science of Stretch,” which spans the corsets and girdles of the 1920s to today’s lymphedema sleeves that have fashionable flair while applying compression to reduce pain and infection risk.
What’s there to know about stretchy fabric?
We know it can shift our perception of our bodies, enhance athletic performance, even improve our health. “Second Skin” breaks down the materials and techniques used to create stretch and compression fabrics. An important example is nylon, one of the first synthetic fibers that’s changed how we move through the world.

Visitors gets hands-on with "Second Skin: The Science of Stretch" at the Museum at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Courtesy photo

Visitors gets hands-on with “Second Skin: The Science of Stretch” at the Museum at the Chemical Heritage Foundation.
Courtesy photo

So is the sports bra one of the almost 50 items on display?
To supplement CHF’s in-house collections, they collaborated with Jogbra’s co-inventor, Lisa Lindahl; the University of Delaware Historic Costume and Textiles Collection; Drexel University; and Invista, producers of Lycra and other fibers, to assemble these “second skins.” Check out this podcast: www.chemheritage.org/distillations/podcast/second-skin-the-unexpected-origin-of-the-sports-bra.
How long do I have to see it?
“Second Skin” can be viewed through May 6.
Where is it?
The Museum at CHF is at 315 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. Admission is free.
When are they open?
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, closed New Year’s Day. Call (215) 925-2222 or visit www.chemheritage.org.

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