We provide extraordinary care for fine
garments & household textiles
In a post entitled "
When your dry cleaner destroys your leather- or suede-trimmed
garment," I expressed the opinion that the vast
majority of dry cleaners are either reluctant to clean
garments with embellishments or trims, or, when they do
attempt to clean such garments, typically produce results that
range from spotty to disastrous.
To support that opinion, I showed before and after
photos of a Rachel Roy cap sleeve crepe dress with a leather neck
and bust that had been cleaned (or rather experimented on) by an
ordinary cleaner. The dress had been purchased from Neiman Marcus
at a cost of around $500.
Within days of that post, I started receiving profanity-laced
comments from folks who I presume to be ordinary dry cleaners. Most
castigated me for implying that they lacked basic technical skills
(apparently a number of dry cleaners read this blog!).
There was one comment, however, that really peaked my interest -
not because of the substance of the comment, but, rather, because
of the source of the comment. So I've decided to reproduce that
comment verbatim (including all grammatical and spelling errors)
"To say it as nicely as I can, I think the writer is full of
crap and completely devoid of textile cleaning and renovation. This
story sounds like a shill for Rave of Arizona. I suspect the care
label states to dryclean only and the garment was made offshore
probably India, China or some third word country. It is obvious the
garment is not serviceable with the care label instructions.
Your description of drycleaners is pretty negative and you state
your opinions as facts. In a perfect world all fabrics, dyes and
trims would be completely safe to dryclean, wetclean or wash.
Unfortunately this isn't the case. Look at the country of origin of
many new garments and you will see that they are made offshore for
cost savings. And, frequently have a full retail price mark-up and
do not show the manufacturing savings int heir prices. Actually
Wal-Mart, Pennys, Sears and others have more reliable clothing for
sale than any boutique or specialty retailer."
And the source of the comment?
Childers, a dry cleaning columnist, consultant and
Before I respond to Mr. Childers' comment, let me say that I
have read many of Mr. Childers' articles over the years. I even
remember studying his textbook "The Master Drycleaners Notebook"
about 20 years ago. Fact is, I still have it on my bookshelf. Many
dry cleaners would do well to study this book and even take a
one-on-one spotting course that might be offered by Mr.
That having been said, I was disappointed with the comment.
Instead of emphasizing the need to improve technical skills, Mr.
Childers appears to be apologizing for the drycleaning
Let me respond specifically to each point made by Mr. Childers
1. He says that the writer is
full of crap.
My response: The writer is spot on
the money. The overwhelming majority of dry cleaners are
clueless when it comes to garment care. And that's not just my
opinion. In an article published in the Western Cleaner and
Launderer in January, 2001, dry cleaning consultant Kenny Slatten
voiced the same opinion and I quote: "We think we do good work. But
a shockingly high number in our ranks simply don't have a clue what
professional garment care is all about." What was true in 2001 is
even more valid today.
2. He says that the writer is
devoid of textile cleaning and renovation (experience).
My response: I'd bet that the
overwhelming majority of the clients Mr. Childers has consulted
with or trained over the past 10 years couldn't hold a candle to
the cleaning and restoration skills demonstrated daily by the
technicians at RAVE FabriCARE.
3. He says that the writer is
a shill for Rave of Arizona.
My response: Thanks for the
compliment. There are approximately 26,000 drycleaners in the USA
and the fact that he refers to us as "Rave of Arizona" implies that
he is familiar with our work. Actually, I like the ring to "Rave of
Arizona". Like Toms of Maine. Or Fredericks of Hollywood.
4. He says that the writer's
description of dry cleaners is pretty negative.
My response: I wouldn't characterize
the writer's opinion as "pretty negative". I would use the term
informed. Informed by the hundreds of screwed up garments brought
in or sent in to RAVE FabriCARE every year.
5. He says that the writer
presents his opinion as facts.
In my opinion, garment care
involves a combination of science, skills and judgement. It's not
all black and white. If that were the case, anyone (and I
do mean anyone) can buy a textbook on stain removal, buy
some equipment, hang up a shingle that says "CLEANERS", and then
sit back and watch the cash rolling in.
In my opinion, any decision
on the specific treatment of a garment, particularly those with
embellishments and trims, often involves "opinion". And, it's my
opinion that most ordinary cleaners have no clue how to
care for garments with embellishments or trims, let alone how to
get a mustard stain out of a cheap white, cotton/spandex
6. He says that in a perfect
world, fabrics, dyes and trims would be completely safe to dry
clean, wet clean or wash.
My response: The care label on
garments "made in India, China, or some third world country" is
often used as a crutch by ordinary dry cleaners to justify their
lack of skills or even their negligence. I'm not saying that
every garment with embellishments or trims can be safely
cleaned. What I am saying is that many can be
safely cleaned - despite their apparent "lack of serviceability" -
if only the dry cleaner had the necessary skills to do so.
Take the rather expensive Gucci silk/spandex/leather slacks
featured below. It's made in Italy. Not quite third world. And it's
eminently cleanable with the application of some knowhow. So how
come the cleaner who originally cleaned it failed so miserably?
How can I help you?
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