NEW YORK — Fabric care is a key consideration for clothing. Too often, however, it takes a backseat in the fashion conversation, particularly when so many designer garments are handwash-only.

That could change if Procter & Gamble Co. has its way. Its Fabric Care division, which includes such brands as Tide, Downy, Gain and Bounce under its umbrella, is entering into several strategic global partnerships as it is looking to redefine what fabric care and cleaning mean. “We see a space to bring together things that may seem disparate — high fashion and washable fashion,” noted P&G Fabric Care North America vice president and general manager Alex Keith.

This story first appeared in the October 10, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The launch partners are London designer Giles Deacon, France’s fabric trade show Première Vision and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Gaining direct insights into the industry and its needs through them, the aim is to amp up the exploration of fabrics and science behind the care of clothes.

Deacon serves as P&G Fabric Care’s first global fashion consultant with the mandate to guide the brand’s fashion approach, and share his industry knowledge to help P&G develop new fiber care technologies.

“I’m interested in designs that work on the catwalk but also beyond the catwalk,” Deacon said. “They must be able to last and maintain their best.”

As Keith put it, “Giles is ultimately going to help us with his experience and industry insights as we think about our innovation program and where we want to place our bets on new fabrics, new fibers and the ability to clean some of the smart fabrics. We will use him as a consultant to better understand the industry.”

The company will work with Première Vision to understand technology advances in fibers and fabrics, which will prove useful as it develops and evolves cleaning products.

In the U.S., the CFDA serves a partner in the specific Washable Fashion Initiative with P&G’s Tide Pods product. It started with a survey conducted by the CFDA and Tide that showed 84.9 percent of the CFDA designers surveyed said they would be more inclined to use machine-washable fabrics if they knew for certain their customers had access to washing detergents that would preserve the garments.

“There was strong data that suggested designers are interested in machine-washable clothes and fabric care that keeps the integrity of the fabric as it is washed over and over,” said CFDA chief executive officer Steven Kolb.

The Washable Fashion Initiative is a part of the CFDA’s Business Service Network.

“Fashion accessibility is not just about price but also care,” P&G’s Keith said. “We think there is an innovative partnership between our technology development, the industry and fashion consultants, by providing high-tech care for garments, new fabrics and some of the great new things that happen in fabrics.”

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