When I wrote the post on H&M, one of the comments stated that their clothes fall apart after 1 or 2 washings. That stood out for me because I have some clothes from H&M that I’ve had for about a year (the first time I went to an H&M store) and they still look good as new. But that’s also because I don’t machine wash all of my clothes.
As you know, Kathleen won’t buy or make anything if it can’t be machine washed. I have different categories of clothing: wear around the house clothes, and where when I’m going somewhere (anywhere) clothes. The wear around the house clothes always get machine washed, but the other clothes, well, they rarely do.
I have a friend who used to dry clean his jeans (of course, this was before we were spending money on jeans washed for 6 weeks, ripped and sandblasted to look worn) because he wanted that crisp look and didn’t want his indigo dye to fade (yes, this was a long time ago). And at that time, I thought it was quite silly, but then as everyone else’s jeans began to fade and tear and his still looked new, I understood (again, this was a long time ago). But back to the point, the clothes that I expect to look good don’t get machine washed, even if the label says they can (the exception being white cotton shirts).
Why? Oh, well, I hate the washing machine and what it does to clothes. Or better yet, what it does to just plain textiles that haven’t yet been made into clothing. First it must be stated that I have a standard washing machine with an agitator, not a newer model without an agitator. Part of my product development involves washing textiles to see how they hold up and closely inspecting the impact machine washing has. When you wash a piece of fabric alone (or with like fabric), it’s fine, but throw it in a cycle with a load of other clothes and all the abrasion creates a different result.
So my theory has become that anything I expect to look practically new and hold up never gets thrown in the washing machine. Ever. The washer is for things that I don’t mind having that worn look (or white cotton shirts).
Thinking that maybe I’m one of the few people who feel this way I asked a friend. Basically, she said that it depends on how much she has paid for it. For example (as she told me) if she pays $5 for a pair of underwear, she expects to throw that in the washer, but if she paid $20 for it, she hand washes it or uses a lingerie bag. Same thing with clothes.
So while I do agree that many apparel manufacturers are lazy with textile testing, I don’t agree with an expectation of machine washability. But I do realize that this expectation varies greatly with the product and the market. I expect to machine wash my children’s clothes, I don’t expect to machine wash mine. And that’s primarily because my children get so much dirtier, or at least I like to think that they do.