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Unstable Dyes Pose The Most Problems, Drycleaners Say

Ian P. Murphy |

CHICAGO — Unstable dyes and prints are the biggest processing headaches for drycleaners, according to American Drycleaner’s most recent Wire survey. Asked, “What do you find the to be the most challenging in your plant?” more than half of operators (54.8%) said “Unusual and/or unstable dyes or prints.”
Coming in second was “Sparkly decorations such as sequins and beads,” with 23.8% of operators. Next were “Folds and textures that are hard to maintain in finishing,” with 9.5% of operators rating it most challenging, and “Elegant fabrics such as satins and metallics” (4.8%). Respondents also named “Spot-only,” “Made in China” and Spandex garments to the list.
Asked, “Do you think that the garments coming into your plant are easier to process than they used to be, or more challenging?” most drycleaners (60.5%) said “Garments are about the same as ever.” More than one-quarter (27.9%) said garments are getting harder to process, however, and just 11.6% thought that “Today’s garments are easier to process.”
“We don’t always feel that the care labels are a great indicator of how a garment should be cleaned due to all of the extra trim,” one operator said. “We also find that even the higher-end garments are not as well-made as they used to be.”
Operators singled out upscale brands including BCBG, White House/Black Market and longtime offender Tommy Bahama for poor colorfastness and other processing problems. Others noted that urban sportswear marketer Coogi and gown manufacturers are notorious for “bailout” labels that offer little processing advice on care labels, then turn out to be unserviceable.
“Regardless of the poor quality of the garment, when it is in our possession and things happen, the customer feels we did something wrong,” one said. “This is not fair, and manufacturers should test garments before selling them—not just put ‘Dryclean only’ on the tag.”
While the American Drycleaner Wire survey presents a snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific. Subscribers to the Wire e-mails—distributed weekly—are invited to participate in an industry survey each month. The survey is conducted online via a partner website, and is developed so it can be completed in less than 10 minutes. The entire American Drycleaner audience is encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.
Click here and follow the menu instructions to sign up for the free e-mail service.

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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