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Like new & gently used, high-end garments & accessories: Post-purchase cleaning

By: Stu Bloom

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RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale, AZ discusses the non-traditional sources of high-end, gently used garments and accessories and their post-purchase cleaning.

What you need to know about cleaning like new or gently used, high-end garments and accessories acquired from non-traditional sources

“Used is your friend… You want things that are worn in, not worn out.”

(“Shopping Effectively Means Shopping Like My Mom” by Derek Guy, www.putthison.com)

Categories of garments and accessories

 

When it comes to purchasing garments and accessories from non-traditional, brick and mortar or online sources such as thrift, resale or consignment stores, garments and accessories can generally be classified into 5 categories:

  1. New with original tags
  2. Like new
  3. Gently used
  4. Extensively used
  5. Donates/discards.

Extensively used and donates/discards garments and accessories tend to have limited resale value because they’re out of style, extensively soiled and/or damaged in some fashion (torn, pilled, snagged, moth eaten, etc.).

Non-traditional sources of garments and accessories

 

There are a number of non-traditional sources for these 5 categories of garments and accessories. 

  1. Brick and mortar thrift stores

    These stores typically offer a range of relatively cheap, non-curated merchandise — including garments and accessories — that’s been purchased, donated or discarded.

    The likelihood that any of these garments and accessories have been cleaned prior to being offered for sale is probably close to zero.

  2. Brick and mortar resale and consignment stores

    These stores typically offer a range of more expensive, non-curated merchandise — including garments and accessories — that’s been purchased or consigned.

    Although the garments and accessories tend to be in better condition that those typically found in thrift stores, some of the garments and accessories are often of

    — dubious quality,

    — dubious measurement (incorrect size labels, shrunken as a result of incorrect care processes, etc.) and/or

    — dubious provenance (outright fake or switched/counterfeit brand labels).

    Unless the garments and accessories are new with original tags, you should assume that these garments and accessories have not been cleaned prior to being offered for sale.

  3. Online resale stores associated with Ebay, Craigslist and the like.

    Who knows? Anything goes. Caveat emptor.

  4. Online resale and consignment stores associated with online forums

    There are a number of online forums that cater to ladies and gentleman who are passionate about their garments and accessories.

    Many of these forums, such as Style Forum, have a Buy & Sell section where forum members (some of whom are resellers and some private individuals) can sell garments and accessories that can generally be described as “better quality”.

    Unless the garments and accessories are new with original tags, you should assume that these garments and accessories have not been cleaned prior to being offered for sale.

  5. Online, curated resale and consignment stores

    A number of online resale and consignment stores have taken a more sophisticated approach: they’ve attempted to differentiate themselves from the above-mentioned resale and consignment stores (and even amongst themselves) by focussing on a particular segment of clientele and/or category of product. 

    The growth in the online, curated resale and consignment market can be attributed to a number of factors, including:

    —  the normalization of the “sharing economy” (think Uber, Airbnb, Rent The Runway and the like)

    —  the entertainment value associated with “hunting for a gem”

    —  greater consumer cost consciousness (value pricing vs. full retail pricing)

    —  the opportunity to update one’s wardrobe more often

    —  the opportunity to declutter one’s wardrobe of unused garments and accessories

    —  careful curation of product 

    —  professional authentication of product 

    —  professional merchandising of product 

    —  attractive packaging of the shipped product

    —  simple, convenient internet shopping experiences, and

    —  flood of venture capital money.

    Unless the garments and accessories are new with tags, you should assume that these garments and accessories have not been cleaned prior to being offered for sale.

[ctt template=”3″ link=”NiybV” via=”no” ]Tips for cleaning and restoring like new and gently used garments and accessories purchased from non-traditional sources @ravefabricare[/ctt]

Tips for cleaning high-end, like new and gently used garments and accessories

 

When it comes to the first 3 sources, the search for high-end garments and accessories that are new with original tags, like new or gently used is, typically, a hit or a miss.

And for those with an eye for style and quality, mostly a miss.

As a result, this post will focus exclusively on high-endlike new and gently used garments and accessories, those typically those purchased from

  • forum-based, online resale and consignment stores, and
  • curated, online resale and consignment stores.

After you’ve found that high-end, like new or gently used garment or accessory, it’s important to clean that garment or accessory prior to wearing it.

Why?

It all boils down to personal hygiene: No one wants to wear a garment or accessory that’s been worn by Mr. or Miss Who-Knows-Who.

Garments

If it’s a garment, carefully examine the item for signs of the following:

  • General soiling

    General soiling typically involves dust, dirt around collars, cuffs and hems.

  • Water-based stains

    Water-based stains include perspiration, water, juice, soda, beer, wine and coffee.

  • Oil-based stains

    Oil-based stains include body oils, hair oils, creams and lotions as well as greasy food deposits.

  • Odors

    Odors include storage-related odors (such as mustiness), body-related odors (such as perspiration, body oils, hair oils, etc.), water-related odors (juice, soda, beer, wine, coffee, etc.), oil-related odors (body oils, hair oils, creams and lotions, greasy food deposits, etc.).

Accessories

If it’s an accessory such as a handbag, purse, wallet or backpack or a pair of shoes or boots, carefully examine the interior and exterior of the item for signs of the following:

  • General soiling

    Every time you place your handbag on a dirty surface — a counter, floor, car seat, etc. — you add a little more dirt to the external surface of the skin or fabric of the handbag, purse, wallet, backpack, shoe or boot. With continuous usage, the dirt will embed ever more deeply into the skin or fabric of the handbag, purse, wallet, backpack, shoe or boot, leading to an unsightly appearance.

  • Water-based stains

    Water-based stains include perspiration, water, juice, soda, beer, wine and coffee.

  • Oil based stains

    Oil-based stains include body oils, hair oils, creams and lotions as well as greasy food deposits.

  • Odors

    Odors include storage-related odors (such as mustiness), body-related odors (such as perspiration, body oils, hair oils, etc.), water-related odors (juice, soda, beer, wine, coffee, etc.), oil-related odors (body oils, hair oils, creams and lotions, greasy food deposits, etc.).

  • Handbag, purse, wallet and backpack specific stains

    There are some stains that are uniquely specific to handbags, purses, wallets and backpacks — exterior cosmetic stains, interior cosmetic stains, exterior ink stainsinterior ink stains and dye transfer from jeans.

 

Finding a true quality cleaner

 

Once you’ve identified that the garment or accessory has “issues”, you’ll need to find a true quality cleaner who can restore that item to as close to pristine condition as possible.

And where will you find a true quality cleaner to handle that special garment or accessory?

Here’s the best approach: Call up a high-end department store, menswear store or ladies boutique in your city or area. Ask to speak to the manager. Tell them that you’re looking for a true quality cleaner that can handle a special garment or accessory and ask them where they would take any soiled garment or accessory in their store’s inventory for restoration and subsequent resale at full retail price.

Then take the garment to that cleaner. That cleaner will have the technical skills to restore that garment or accessory to as close to original condition as possible.

And if you have trouble finding a true quality cleaner in your city or area, you can alway locate the services of a true quality cleaner that ships nationwide.

Now that you’ve invested in that fine garment or accessory — probably at a substantial discount off the original retail price — it’s time to invest in the restoration of that item to pristine condition.

You’ll notice that, unlike so many internet-based articles that provide a list of DIY suggestions for cleaning and restoring garments and accessories purchased from non-traditional sources — you’ll find no such life hacks here. 

And, yes, I’m biased in favor of true quality cleaning.

But, then again, the purchase of a high-end garment or accessory — even if you purchased it at a substantial discount —  is not something you probably want to entrust to an ordinary cleaner for “experimentation.”

If you purchased a white cotton blouse for $12.99 from a thrift store, I’d say experiment with DIY options.

On the other hand, if you purchased a bespoke or made-to-measure garment, a couture garment, a specialty garment or a high-end handbag from an online resale or consignment store, I’d recommend professional cleaning and/or restoration. 

 

Photo credit: unsplash.com/Anne Edgar

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Filed Under:

Dry Cleaning,Garment Care,Garment Restoration,Handbags, Purses, Wallets & Handbags,Wet Cleaning

Author

Stu Bloom

Stu Bloom is Founder and President of RAVE FabriCARE. RAVE FabriCARE, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, cares for fine garments, household textiles and accessories and serves clients throughout the USA and Canada. Stu is the author of various ebooks on these subjects, all of which are available from www.ravefabricare.com/freestuff. He is an evangelist for true quality cleaning and is a contributor to and editor of True Quality Cleaning, RAVE FabriCARE’s blog. You can find Stu on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Additional Resources:

https://ravefabricare.com/stu-bloom-professional-care-maintenance-fine-garments/

https://ravefabricare.com/7-things-consider-before-choosing-true-quality-cleaner/

https://ravefabricare.com/extraordinary-versus-ordinary-dry-cleaning-which-one-would-you-choose/

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