True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

When hand pressed, isn't handpressed (part one)

Louis Vuitton bagBritain's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) just banned two Louis Vuitton ads, ruling that the ads misled consumers into believing that their products are hand-made.

One of the ads featured a photograph of a woman hard-stitching the handle of a handbag. The second ad showed a woman hand-cutting the folds of a wallet.

The text of the latter ad reads: "In everything from Louis Vuitton, there are elements that cannot be fully explained. What secret little gestures do our craftsmen discretely pass on? How do we blend innate skill and inherent prowess? Or how can five tiny folds lengthen the life of a wallet? Let's allow these mysteries to hang in the air. Time will provide the answers."

At first, Louis Vuitton argued that their campaign was a "homage to the craftsmanship" of their "artisans", and were dramatized interpretations of their production processes. Later, they were forced to admit that they used sewing machines for "strength, accuracy and durability."

The ASA concluded that the ads were deceptive because Louis Vuitton had failed to prove that their products were hand-made.

In arguing their case before the ASA, Louis Vuitton could not overcome the fact that their luxury goods are made primarily by machine and that human involvement in the process was limited to operating a machine.

So what's all this got to do with drycleaning and shirt laundry?

Hand pressed shirtJust this: almost every cleaner swears that they hand press your fine garments and shirts. But, just like Louis Vuitton, the facts prove to be quite different.

Truth is, ordinary cleaners love their presses.

Why? Because, of all the functions performed by a cleaner, pressing is where ordinary cleaners can achieve the greatest productivity, i.e., where they can move garments through their system with maximum speed. This is especially the case at lower and mid-priced cleaners and at so-called high-end cleaners that offer a two tier pricing structure, generically, dubbed their "basic" and "premium" service.

Hand pressed embroideredPressing is where your garments are banged out on a press at a furious rate. Typically, 30 to 40 pants per hour per presser; 20 to 30 non-pant garments per hour per presser; and 40 to 50 laundered shirts per hour on a "single buck" shirt pressing machine (80 to 100 per hour on a "double buck" shirt pressing machine).

That's 1 or 2 minutes per laundered shirt and 2 to 3 minutes per garment that's not a laundered shirt!

Here's the problem: pressing is the area of operations where a cleaner can inflict the greatest damage to a garment.

Pressing is where your garments are subjected to too much pressure, with too much steam, for way too long. Especially when it comes to wools, silks, rayons, knits, and other non-cotton and non-linen fabrics.

Poor pressing results in shine; seam, flap and button impressions; moire-like press pad impressions; double creases; wrinkled seams and linings; puckered seams; wrinkled collars, cuffs, underarms, sleeve pleats, sleeve plackets and front plackets; wrinkled cuff/sleeve and sleeve/body joins; and other "crimes of fashion".

By contrast, a true quality cleaner will hand iron your fine garments. A hand iron in the hands of a skilled finisher will produce an infinitely superior garment than a press in the hands of a machine operator.

Someone ought to introduce ordinary cleaners to the hand iron.

But that's just me letting off steam.

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