July 07, 2009

Wedding Dress Care/Content Labeling

This article now has a follow-up blog entry with some corrections and additional opinions. Your comments are welcome, but hateful or spammy comments will be deleted.

As I was working on the alterations for this wedding dress, I wanted to see other dresses by this designer/maker. Perhaps the sleeve pattern shaping was intentional and not a mistake? Perhaps the problem is consistently found in other styles? I had no idea who the designer was, only where the dress was purchased. The dress was not in the store's web catalog and the only label in the dress was not helpful. The dress was missing a brand label and had no RN number. Further, the care instructions were rather bizarre/interesting (click on the picture for a closer view). I googled the style number and came up empty.

At a minimum, the dress should have had an RN number on the label. You can search an FTC database to find out the manufacturer of an apparel item. Wedding dress manufacturers/bridal shops have been fined in the past for failing to disclose or intentionally removing this information. Alterationists may remove the labels after purchase but should give them to the bride (links to come later as the FTC website was having problems when I wrote this).

The label states:

100% polyester
Do not dryclean
Spot clean ONLY
Use cold water and
mild soap
Made in China
See reverse for care
Do not spray Alcohol
based product directly
on gown such as Perfume,
Hairspray....etc. This will
damage beadworks and
embroiderie designs made of
Rayon, Nylon, and other
synthetic materials.

I found the care instructions rather hilarious. How many of you spot cleaned your wedding dress with only cold water and mild soap? The fabrics themselves probably could be dry cleaned or even hand washed (though that may be more work). The beads will probably dissolve in the dry cleaning solvents, so thus the "do not dry clean" instructions. But, if you can find a reputable dry cleaner who will clean the dress and avoid the beads, then go ahead and have the dress dry cleaned. Otherwise, hand wash the dress. BTW, there were no further care instructions on the back of the label. Many wedding dresses are currently manufactured in China, which may explain the poorly written tag.

The extra instructions are interesting. I suppose it is possible that perfume or hairspray may damage the beads. Though the bride would probably need to be drenched in it before the beads dissolved. Sure would like to put those beads to the test....

The label should have been written to say:

100% Polyester
Hand wash or
Spot clean
in cold water with
mild soap. Hang to
dry. Do not bleach,
Do not iron.
Made in China
RN12345 (<------ Made up)
Avoid the use of
Alcohol based products
such as hairspray,
perfume, etc., as these
may damage the dress.

And of course, the care instructions should be thoroughly tested by the manufacturer. Good industry practice (and the government) dictate that a manufacturer should have a reasonable basis for the cleaning instructions. This means actual test data recorded and stored with the manufacturer. At this point in time, manufacturers (except children's clothing manufacturers) can do their own in-house wash testing. Children's clothing manufacturers will have to have it done by a certified laboratory. Wash testing is not specifically mentioned in the CPSIA, but it does imply that ANY testing will have to be done in a certified lab.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:00 PM

    I worked in a bridal shop in alterations and we sometimes cleaned the dresses with the washing machine, inside out, cold, gentle cycle. Dresses always came out fine, of course the labels said to dry clean. we only did this on the polyester dresses. In my experience with dry cleaners and wedding dresses even the good places make you sign a waiver if there is any beading.