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.
The recession has initiated a return to a buttoned-up, almost wartime glamour, with hip-hugging pencil skirts, suit ensembles and often, matching elbow-length gloves. It’s a no-nonsense look for today’s femme fatale, and its traditional fibers and time-tested tailoring should present drycleaners with few problems, the experts say.
“If this was everything that could come through your plant, it would be the best scenario,” says Joseph Hallak Jr., vice president of Hallak Cleaners in New York, N.Y. “What you’re seeing are basically tweeds,” adds Alan Spielvogel, garment analyst with the National Cleaners Association (NCA). “Make sure you clean them with low humidity, so there’s no shrinkage or distortion,” and remove shoulder pads prior to cleaning to prevent solvent retention.
In finishing, avoid the pant topper to avoid stretching on form-fitted skirts, adds Chris Allsbrooks, trainer for Greenbelt, Md.-based ZIPS Franchising, and put gloves “in a net bag to avoid snagging.”
Digital fabric dyeing is making bright florals, stripes and dots come alive in near-abstract designs that feature hot pinks, scarlets and emeralds. On such vibrant hues, “the color is only as good as the process,” Spielvogel warns. “The problem is keeping the dye where it was applied — one color might migrate.”
Maintain your solvent’s purity so that excess humidity can’t cause garments to bleed, he says, and keep mechanical action and solvent temperatures down to control the aggressiveness of the cleaning process.
Also be wary of dye crocking, Allsbrooks says, particularly when this trend heads downmarket into mass-merchandised garments. “Any time you have a garment that has contrasting colors printed on it, it’s easy for the print to rub off and transfer to lighter areas,” she says.
Tailored garments ruled the runways in a relatively conservative fall season, often with structural accents that stand up on their own. Neutral base colors such as blacks, browns and grays served as a foundation for swooping collars and bustles in contrasting colors, building an elegant, minimalist look.
Drycleaners must first identify whether the accents stand up due to sizing, interfacing or bones. “If it’s sizing, you might not be able to get it to stand up again after you clean it,” Hallak says. And if “interfacing bends or starts to break, you can’t get it to lay flat anymore.”
Drycleaners may wish to remove and replace interfacings, but plastic bones “can dissolve or break apart” in solvent, Spielvogel says. “You have to really know what’s in there.” In finishing, “they may require a lot more hand-ironing,” Allsbrooks adds.
Click here for Part 2 of this story.