By Jeff Gardner | Aug 17, 2009
In clothing manufacturers’ continuing quest to produce items more cheaply, there have been some interesting evolutions in the garment industry. For example, in some cases, manufacturers do not dye the yarn before it is woven into fabric. Rather, they weave the fabric or make the garment, then apply the dye. They also use cheaper dyes. While this results in a production cost savings, it often produces a fabric that is less colorfast.
Incidentally, when you see a garment advertised as being “yarn-dyed,” that is a good thing. It means the fabric was constructed with yarns that were dyed prior to being woven, thus they will be more resistant to bleeding and fading.
In some cases, the first washing of a new garment results in “bleach” spots. You probably didn’t get any bleach on the garment at all. The spots either resulted from your shirt coming into contact with some other common household cleaner – the inferior dye was unable to withstand it without running – or there were simply spots on the shirt where the dye did not adhere properly.
Recently, I had a customer in my laundromat who was washing some brand new bath towels for the first time. The towels came out of the washing machine with the same kind of “bleach” spots just mentioned. She assumed there was some kind of residual bleach in the machine. I explained the evolution of cheap fabric dying and suggested she return the towels to the retailer where she purchased them. She did, and received a full refund. Moreover, she was told that the retailer had experienced a lot of similar problems with that brand of towel.
Unfortunately for us consumers, some manufacturers and/or retailers are simply willing to run the risk of using a cheaper dye process and producing/selling a lower-quality product, because their market research has proven that only a certain percentage of customers will actually return the items.
Another group of garments that I see regularly is high-end fashion clubwear. I recently had a customer bring in a pair of COOGI brand jeans and ask if I would launder and press them for him. He then proceeded to tell me they were brand new and he had spent a lot of money on them. Even though they were jeans, I still always look at the manufacturer’s care recommendations. This was the first time I ever saw this on a pair of jeans:
“DO NOT DRY CLEAN”
“DO NOT WASH”
“WASHING WILL CAUSE COLOR RUN”
I showed the tag to the customer and explained that I could not clean them for him because I would not take the responsibility for the outcome.
There are many manufacturers out there that are following the same practices, so be aware of this, just in case one of your customers wants to blame your equipment for a problem that was out of your control.