Case studies: Party wear

4 December 2018

Party time needn’t give drycleaners a hangover. Stacey King of DTC provides timely advice in tackling party wear

Careful inspection pays when it comes to style

With party season looming, many people will wish to freshen up their evening wear. Occasion wear is quite often inappropriately labelled because manufacturers have a tendency to overlook the suitability of any embellishments for cleaning. This can lead to expensive disasters.

One of the biggest reoccurring problems we see here at DTC is the inability of a coloured fabric or a contrasting print to withstand drycleaning, especially in perchloroethylene, without either fading or tinting any paler areas.

In some cases, colour bleed is so bad that the dyes even run in milder solvents or water. This is closely followed by damaged trims, including melted beads, damaged sequins, belts which have come unglued, torn lace – the list goes on.

While weave slippage is a less common issue encountered at the DTC of late, the use of very delicate and unusual fabrics still poses the potential for weave movement and customer disappointment.

The demands of the UK fashion industry has resulted in some very ostentatious styles, which can look great on the catwalk but often give unforeseen problems in wear and drycleaning. This is coupled with the continuing enthusiasm of many wearers to have a go at stain removal by advice found on various online forums.

Both of these give rise to problems of which the wearer may be well aware but is then relying on the ‘magic’ properties of drycleaning to reverse the damage. This confidence is seriously misplaced and should be addressed by much more careful inspection by the cleaner at the counter than is often displayed. Inspection can avoid over half of most party wear problems if it is methodically carried out under good lighting.  

Taking the time to address any potential problems and explaining these to your customers is essential. In the ‘claim culture’ times we live in today, any oversights have the potential to bring a costly backlash.


Wasteband trim melted together

Fault: This prom dress had a lovely adorned waistband. After drycleaning, it was found that the trim had melted together.

Cause: The decorative waistband had been attached to the belt using an adhesive which was soluble in solvent. The dress was drycleaned in perchloroethylene without any other apparent issue. The perc softened the adhesive, allowing the trim to bunch together in an unsightly wad.

Responsibility: The responsibility lies with the manufacturer for failing to ensure all components of the dress can withstand drycleaning.

Rectification: None is possible.


The age of the stain

Fault: The customer had complained that when taking their suit to the drycleaners for a ‘freshen up’ a stain had not been successfully removed.

Cause: The stain had undoubtedly been attained in wear. The issue here was that the suit jacket had been stored for a long period allowing the stain to set into the fabric. As stains age, they inevitably dry out. Once dried into the fabric they can be very difficult to remove.

Responsibility: Although the responsibility for the stain lies with the wearer, a little digging by the cleaner could have revealed the age of the stain. This would have allowed them to explain to the owner the reasons why that the stain might not be successfully removed.


Tramlines appeared on expensive woollen skirt

Fault: Although this expensive woollen evening skirt cleaned well, the owner returned it reporting finding tramlines on one section on the outer side seam.

Cause: This is an extremely sensitive fabric, which glazes and displays seam impressions very easily. Close examination revealed that it had been pressed from the inside very well with no glazing or marking but had subsequently been touched up and damaged by amateur attention in three or four areas.

Responsibility: The professional pressing from the inside bears all of the hallmarks of an experienced presser. This is not consistent with the damage on the outer face of the fabric. The owner here should be taking responsibility for the latter damage. However, the cleaner is responsible for not noting the damage at reception and giving the owner the opportunity of not having the garment cleaned.

Rectification: The tramlines might lift in a reclean. However, if the short staple surface fibres have been scorched the damage will not be rectifiable.


Time to say goodnight

Fault: This velvet dinner jacket has seen many years of wear. After its most recent dryclean, the pile has become sparse in multiple areas making its appearance rather dingy.

Cause: The pile has become worn in areas, which are susceptible to abrasion during normal wear. Because of this, the fibres have become weak and eventually have been flushed away due to the mechanical action provided in the drycleaning machine.

Responsibility: The jacket has perished with age. Even old favourites, no matter how well kept, will reach a point where they are no longer at their best.

Rectification: The pile cannot be restored.


Dirty solvent spoilt this white suit

Fault: This white dress, part of a two piece suit, was drycleaned after a family event. The owner was very disappointed to find that it was returned with an unpleasant grey tinge when laid beside the matching jacket.

Cause: The dress had discoloured for a very basic mistake – use of dirty solvent. This was an oversight by the cleaner on a very busy day but nonetheless has spoilt the appearance of this ladies dress.

Responsibility: The responsibility lies with the cleaner.


Hanging caused gown to grow

Fault: This gown appeared to ‘grow’ after cleaning, making it too long to comfortably wear.

Cause: The sheer number of beads on this heavily adorned dress meant that the weight was just too much for the outer fabric. The dress has been wetcleaned to protect the beads from the potentially devastating effects of perc and then hung to dry. It was this act that allowed the fabric to drop.

Responsibility: Although their intentions were good, the cleaner is responsible for the distortion here. Wetcleaning was a very good choice for this dress but the dress might have held it shape better had it been lightly tumbled as opposed to hung to dry.

Rectification: Re-cleaning might allow the fabric to relax back to its original position.




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