The main advantages of spandex used in clothing are that it is lightweight, flexible and stretchy. These traits make it comfortable to wear and easy to care for. For these reasons, spandex is a popular and common material in many types of clothing.
Spandex is made from polyester-polyurethane copolymer fibers that form a stretchy and resilient fabric. In addition to being comfortable and versatile, spandex also has several traits that make it advantageous to work with in clothing manufacture. When sewn, spandex sustains little needle damage, which adds to its durability. Spandex can stretch repeatedly and significantly and still return to its original size and shape. It can be heat set into permanent shapes and dyed a wide variety of colors.
Spandex, which is an anagram for "expands," is also known as elastane and by the brand name Lycra. It was developed in the 1950s as an alternative to natural rubber. The German chemist Farbenfabriken Bayer developed the first experimental formula for the material that would later be known as Spandex and acquired a German patent for it in 1952. Independent discovery of the first mass producible formula is credited to Joseph Shivers and was patented by DuPont in 1958.