There are always challenges for drycleaners who try to clean couture garments and their off-the-rack imitations, but for the most part, the styles coming off the runways this fall tended toward the conservative, our annual Fashion & Fabricare issue reports — perhaps due to recession.
We take a look at the runways of Milan, New York and Paris to find the constructions and styles that will challenge drycleaners in the months to come.
Tough times demand tough clothing, and designers delivered with leather skirts, jackets and pants, aggressively bedazzled with studs, zippers and clunky jewelry. Though softened for the couture market, “biker” leathers still present the same color-loss and shrinkage problems they always have, and are best handled by a professional leather cleaner. If that isn’t your specialty, “send it out and make your customer happy,” Chris Allsbrooks, trainer for Greenbelt, Md.-based ZIPS Franchising, advises.
As for the embellishments, “make sure that chains can be cleaned — that they don’t rip apart clothes in the machine,” says Alan Spielvogel, garment analyst with the National Cleaners Association (NCA). “Check how the trims are affixed to the garments — anything that’s glued-on might come off.”
If you do your own processing and are wary of potential problems, consider hand-cleaning. “That way, you can protect the clunky jewelry,” says Joseph Hallak Jr., vice president of Hallak Cleaners in New York, N.Y. “The time you spend hand-cleaning a garment is one-tenth what you’ll spend trying to replace [it]. If the pieces are removable, that’s another option: Take them off, clean the garment and re-sew them.”
Fall’s most au courant sweaters, skirts, suits and capes include not just the typical tweeds, but boiled wools, mohairs, shearlings and other fibers that offer a warm, tactile touch to the most stylish ensemble.
Keep moisture to a minimum in spotting and drycleaning, Hallak says, and most of these constructions should be “a breeze.” Short cycles will help keep shrinkage to a minimum.
Shearlings, however, tend to lose their natural oil content and “seldom feel the same after cleaning,” Spielvogel says. Real shearlings should go to a professional leather cleaner, Allsbrooks advises, “but a faux shearling, you can do yourself” — just be sure not to clean the garment so harshly that the glue binding the acrylic “fur” to its knit backing softens and allows the two materials to separate.
With its asymmetrical cuts, contrasting, polka-dot patterns, neon brights, and high waists, the suburban-friendly street style of the early MTV era returned to the runways this year, giving drycleaners an often unwelcome blast from the past.
“Neon colors are infamous,” Hallak says. “Whatever the label says, test for colorfastness, [and] use picrin or a cold gun to see what the best cleaning process is.”
Contrasting patterns can bleed and fade, particularly when they’re surface prints, the experts add, and neons can lose their sheen if the cleaning process strips optical brighteners from the fabric.
Click here for Part 1 of this story.