By  on May 19, 1994

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Producers of wrinkle-resistant fabrics must ensure quality results or the current trend in WR fabrics will fade, Richard J. Sussman, chairman, Sussman Automatic Corp., warned the industry.

"Some group is going to have to set standards for oven-curing times and temperatures for WR fabrics," Sussman told an American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists symposium. The symposium, held here last month, was titled "Wrinkle-Free Finishing of Cotton and Cotton Blends."

"Someone is going to have to set those standards," he emphasized. "Because until everybody has that information, there are going be improperly cured wrinkle-free garments and unhappy customers. And the whole WR movement, which is just beginning, could fail for the lack of simple information that we all need to know."

Sussman Automatic Corp. is a major supplier of curing ovens to producers of WR fabrics. Sussman told DNR that there is a danger to the whole WR movement even if only a small number of poor-quality garments are produced.

"We've got to be very careful that the quality standards are such that these wrinkle-free garments are really wrinkle-free and that they're not anything less, because if they get to the consumer and they don't perform, their lack of performance will wash over everybody," he said. "People aren't going to know where those pants came from. They'll just say the pants aren't any good and everybody will get a bad name."

Sussman said his company has sent letters to buyers of casual pants and shirts at every department store and chain store in the country "telling them what is needed to produce a quality wrinkle-free garment, and that anything less than that will not perform."

Thus far, Sussman said he is not getting much reaction to his call for setting standards in the finishing of post-cured garments. "The feeling I'm getting is that they are interested in getting the oven in quickly and starting to produce, but they're not paying attention to the basics. And, they've got to do their homework before they even get started," he explained.

Margit Machacek, merchandise evaluation manager for the men's division, J.C. Penney Co., also emphasized the need for quality in products supplied to the huge retailer."Overdrying or overcuring can harm the fabric," she said. "The customer of the '90s is more discerning than any customer in history as far as demanding quality and value. The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of low price has gone."

Machacek, who is based at J.C. Penney's Quality Assurance Center in Carrollton, Texas, said, "With Wrinkle-Free merchandise, the testing is more demanding. The durable-press performance as well as the strength parameters must be constantly monitored."

She urged suppliers of apparel and soft home furnishings to install a basic fabric and finished-goods testing laboratory in each plant. "On a long-term basis, this testing program can return dividends many times greater than the small initial investments. The supplier's testing laboratory can detect quality problems that lead to rejected merchandise," Machacek said.

"At J.C. Penney, we monitor the quality of wrinkle-free merchandise on a regular basis. We also compare the quality of our merchandise to that of our competitors. We request that our quality-control inspectors send two garments of each color inspected to the Merchandise Testing Center. The performance of the garments is evaluated, including dimensional stability, appearance retention, durable press ratings after three home launderings, and fabric tear strength."

Other AATCC symposium presentations included information on modern resin finishes for fabrics containing cotton by Bernard North, Sequa Chemicals; global aspects of the vapor phase finishing process by George Strake, American Textile Processing Co.; durable-press garments by John D. Turner, Cotton Incorporated; machine parameters for the continuous finishing of easy-care cotton fabrics by J. Preston Aldridge, Jr., Elliott & Trimble, Inc.; resin selection criteria by Gary Barnett, Springs Industries; and the measurement of formaldehyde by C. Monty Player, Jr., Cone Mills Corp.

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