Lycra is the brand name of spandex invented by DuPont scientist Joseph C. Shivers in 1959. After ten years of research Shivers came up with a spandex that stretched better than rubber (up to 600% its natural shape) and didn’t break down after being exposed to body oils, detergents, lotions or perspiration. Lycra changed women's clothing first with the invention of intimate apparel that no longer bound or hurt. Finally women could wear clothing that moved with them and then shrunk back to its original shape.
Since 1959 DuPont is still the leading manufacturer of Lycra, though not typically sold or used by itself as it is much more effective when added to other fabrics (like wool, cotton or linen) giving these fabrics a new stretchy quality.
DuPont did not invent spandex, instead Bayer holds the claim to that, DuPont instead was able to use their research on polyurethane to patent Lycra and hold the market for nearly thirty years. More research on farther application of Lycra is being pursued.