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Fall Fashions Flummox Fabricare

Ian P. Murphy |

Six of the season's most popular looks — any of which could present problems on your plant's production floor.Armor
Structured, military-inspired garments in cuts from Roman to Revolutionary marched down the catwalk this year atop the season’s ubiquitous skinny leg. Traditional fibers belie lots of bows, buttons and belts, though—and decorations worthy of a war hero.
The skinny leg presents problems, with its de rigueur dark colors and form-fitting Lycra constructions. “The 3% Lycra jeans have been shrinking,” says Steve Boorstein, author of the newly- released 99 Secrets of Cleaning & Clothing Care. Many may need to be measured before cleaning and carefully treated on the wet side to avoid pulling colors, he says. “You might want to dilute the chemicals with a little more water than normal, and apply them sparingly.”Knit
Homespun cottons, wools and cashmeres are preparing wearers for the colder months—and the loose-knit, oversized “boyfriend sweater” with leggings is the slouchiest, most stylish minidress of the season.
Knits are “humongous” this year, Boorstein says. “They’re big, so they catch on things, and they’re loose—it’s the worst of both situations. Look for snags and loose and broken yarns.” Drycleaners should net knits, watch out for unusual stains on matching arm- and leg-warmers, and consider their packaging options, he says. “Do you use a sweater bag or a large hanger?”
There is an upside to the trend, though: The layered look “means more pieces in the plant,” says Chris Allsbrooks, IFI garment analyst. “If it takes four or five pieces to make an outfit, you can hope that three or four of them come into your plant.”Gilded
Improving metallic technologies continue to provide consumers with the glitz necessary for everything from carpool to casino. Gold is back as the glint of choice, in the form of multicolored paillards and sequins, metallic fibers, and full-on gold lamés.
“Lamés can be wiped down,” Boorstein says, while metallic Lurex fibers are more brittle and prone to snagging and breakage.
A new metallic fabric that’s somewhat more wearable just came out, Allsbrooks says, but snagging can still be a problem, as will the metallics’ traditional nemesis—staining and discoloration from perspiration and other acids.Pouf
The many exaggerated silhouettes of this season’s skirts include the pouf, the bubble and (in homage to the late, great Balenciaga) the cocoon. Each shape takes a little something extra to give it body—perhaps a tulle stuffing or a set of hidden straps that keeps the cocoon closed—and that means extra work for the drycleaner.
“It takes extra sizing and hand steaming to make taffeta stand out,” Boorstein says. “A lot of people think you can just drop the press head down on those pouf dresses,” Allsbrooks adds. “You can’t—there are usually several layers there, so you’ll have to do a lot of steaming and lot of hand-ironing.”Chinois
Shiny satins and silks in bold floral prints of red, black and gold recall geishas’ garments with this season’s big infusion of Chinese-inspired styles.
With so many blouses and dresses in this style and at all price points, “not all the pieces are going to be well-made,” Boorstein says. “I would anticipate more finishing time and extra care during inspection for pre-existing conditions—bold prints are really hard to nspect.”
For the satins and jacquards, “you’ll want a lot of net bags,” Allsbrooks adds, and for the deep shades of red, “get a red load together and test for colorfastness.” “Test, test and test,” Boorstein concurs.Fur
The wintertime favorite is no longer limited to wraps and stoles. Designers high and low now use fur and faux fur to embellish every part of every garment, with fox being this fall’s fave. “There’s lots of fur out there,” Allsbrooks says. “If you’re not equipped to handle it, you’re best off sending it to someone who is.”
And since fur is used everywhere, mixed constructions are causing lots of trouble: “Faux and real fur mixed with leather; vests with rabbit trims,” Boorstein says. “Look for fabric mixes, and inspect inside and out.”
Some mixes may not be serviceable by the time you see them, he adds. “When they blend a leather and a fur, the consumer knows it’s going to be expensive to clean. They wear [the garment] to death, and by the time a cleaner gets it, it’s really messed up.”

About the author

Ian P. Murphy

American Drycleaner

Ian P. Murphy is a freelance writer based in Chicago, and was the editor of American Drycleaner from 1999 to 2011.

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