The stories of our early, industry-leading innovations still make an impact today. Since 1865, Milliken has been innovating to do good for the world and create a new level of experience for our customers. Our diversified portfolio of meaningfully designed products is derived from our team’s ability to combine unique insights with our extensive knowledge as scientists.
Take a peek inside some of the stories behind a few of our early textile product innovations that contribute to the Milliken of today and continue to drive our innovative way of thinking about the future.
The Laundry Basket
Milliken’s first and oldest patent, the fabric-covered commercial laundry basket was developed in 1927 to transport laundry. It was mounted on casters and featured diagonal cross-braces to improve structural integrity. This changed the experience in industrial laundries, allowing for easier transport of heavy linens and towels.
In the 1950s, we saw the birth of a new consumer-driven society. Milliken was at the forefront introducing Agilon® in 1956, the leading yarn for producing one-sized stretch women’s hosiery—the first direct Milliken Research-derived product of worldwide significance, signaling Milliken’s arrival as a technology-driven company.
As the story goes, an innovative Milliken researcher was watching his wife wrap presents and noticed how once ribbons are curled with scissors, they retain their curls even after they are stretched multiple times. This inspired him to think that fabrics should be able to accomplish the same flexible strength in other applications.
Thus, Agilon was born. Prior to Agilon, all hosiery included a seam along the back and wouldn’t sit well on the leg, but the nylon eliminated the need for seaming, revolutionizing women’s hosiery.
Belfast self-ironing fabric
In 1959, before carefree fabrics were the expected norm in apparel, Milliken engineers and scientists in Clemson, South Carolina, created a breakthrough product: the first self-ironing 100% cotton fabric. Belfast® featured built-in performance that held up against water and washing. This innovation eliminated the need for ironing fabrics made of cellulose fibers, making lives easier by eliminating the time needed to iron a new shirt, blouse or trousers.
Our continuous innovations across a variety of industries allow us to touch everyday experiences at work, home and play and inspire us to continue creating. Discover more stories of innovation, past and present, in our online Innovation Gallery.