I bet this is something that happened to most of you at least once in your lifetime, buying a nice garment and then finding this "funny" symbol on its care label the minute before putting it into the washing machine :
For those of you don't know it yet, let me introduce you the "do not wash" symbol.
I came up with the idea of this article after I had a personal shopping tour with a client. She was in love with a white coat, determined to buy it, and I was even encouraging her because it suited her very much; but right before going to the till to pay for it I asked her to check the care label and, guess what!? the "funny" symbol was there!
Now...can you imagine a white coat?
Pure, clear, magnetic.... just for one day probably!
It could become greyish in a snap just by touching something or leaning the elbows somewhere; not to mention the chance of getting it stained by eating or drinking something (and if you wear it for your nights out there is a high chance for it to happen).
So, what options did she have? Apparently two : buy it but leave it hanging in the closet, well preserved in its packaging, waiting for a very special occasion, or leave it in the shop. My clients, following my suggestion, choose option 2. A coat is quite an expensive piece of apparel, even in the high street chain shops, so she wisely thought it wasn't worth spending money on it.
But, honestly, this is not fair; when it happens that we like a garment and it also really suits and enhances us, we should be free to buy it!
I really wish to say something to all the apparel companies : probably they don't know it but a garment needs to be washed, If not right after we bought it, at least once we've worn it.
The problem is I've worked for several fashion companies in the past, because I used to be product developer and fashion designer before being an image consultant, and I know how it works. I can't and don't want to generalize, but most of the time companies simply prefer to avoid risks - by putting a "do not wash" symbol on a care label they prevent complains related to the washing/care of a garment. This is an easy and convenient option for them, not as convenient for their customer actually.
Let me tell you something : there is no fabric that cannot be washed! And in case it really exists it shouldn't be used to produce clothes (am I wrong?!). Obviously I'm not telling you to wash everything that has that symbol on its care label, I cannot guarantee that your garments can be really washed, there are many factors to be considered (for example if there are beads, delicate embroideries or any kind of embellishment on it) but I can tell you that as long as it's plain and the fabric is silk, viscose, cotton, linen, rayon, polyester, nylon and even wool, you can hand wash it or do a delicate and proper washing machine program; and if it's leather, a coat or a down jacket you can have it dry cleaned at the laundry.
I've also got several garments that apparently cannot be washed, most of them are high quality brands and quite expensive, and I noticed this detail too late, but I decided to run the risk : I washed them! And you know what? The outcome was unbelievably perfect.
This is another reason why I'm writing these few words : now as in the past, when I was on the brands' side, I hate that customers are cheated!
Take my words just as a warning but do what you really think is best for your clothes and act according to your ideas.
I just want to give you a warm advice for next time you go shopping for clothes : before buying a garment don't just look at the price tag, also check the care label and if you see the "do not wash" symbol leave it where it is, possibly explaining your reasons to the sales assistants. Your money is valuable, spend it wisely and avoid surprises!
This is, in fact, something I help my clients with during their personal shopping experiences with me. With my background in fashion I know well fabrics and how to treat them.