There’s nothing worse than getting a stain on your favorite garment and not knowing how to clean it. In the following article Virginie Fournier – owner and main designer of Shanghai Trio – and one of Nicely Made in China’s partners – gives Nicely Made in China readers a few tips on how to keep delicate and favorite articles in good shape for a long time.
Virginie, how do you keep silk and other fragile fabrics in good condition over the years? Any secret recipe?
Contrary to what people think, silk is not that difficult to maintain. Here are a few rules that I’ve been following for years: my first piece of advice is to avoid wearing the same silk item day in and day out. Silk is a natural product and needs to rest. Secondly, any contact with self tanning lotions or sprays and other such products should be avoided. Similarly do not spray perfume directly onto silk. Before attaching a brooch to a silk garment, make sure to clean the brooch needle with pure alcohol to avoid leaving a mark with the needle hole. And on the subject of jewellery, do not let bracelets and necklaces rub against silk as they will leave a mark.
In these days of long haul air travel, silk creases easily after 12 hours in a suitcase but it is easily uncreased – just hang it up in the bathroom with the steam of a hot bath – it works a treat.
When it comes to cleaning silk, dry cleaning is not absolutely necessary. A few rules will help you keep your silk articles longer: Never soak silk, never boil it and never use bleach. The silk we use for our products at Shanghai Trio is washable using the “wool” or “silk” programs on washing machines. Lastly do not store it in a damp environment, nor expose it to direct sunlight. If you have silk curtains, don’t forget to add a lining, and remember that colored silk doesn’t like the rain! Lastly a tiny drop of soft shampoo can be used to wash silk.
How many types of fabrics do you use for Shanghai Trio products?
We use many different fabrics: various silks, cashmere, yak wool, different types of cottons, linen and even polyester! Personally I like linen – white or colored, when it’s embroidered by hand it makes an elegant and discreet fabric. It doesn’t tear easily and resists tension, which is an important quality. Linen is beautiful when it is perfectly ironed with a little starch to prevent it creasing. For large linen pieces the challenge is to spread the starch evenly, so it must be added in the washing machine.
To dry linen, again it is better to keep it away from direct sunlight. It also makes life easier if you can iron it when it is still a little damp. If you stick to these rules linen can become a fabric you wear every day.
Something everyone dreads: a fruit, coffee or wine stain that won’t go away! What to do?
Provided there was no sugar in the coffee or tea, the stains will disappear easily after a wash. But as a rule try to work on the stains before you put the clothes in the washing machine. Other grandmothers’ tips include using the famous « savon de Marseille » but avoid using chemical anti-stain treatments on natural fibers.
Virginie, when you’re creating a product for Shanghai Trio, do you take into account how easy – or difficult – the fabric will be to clean?
The first thing we think of is that it should be comfortable and of high quality: be it a duvet cover, a scarf or a coat. If it doesn’t stand up well to daily use, it’s not for us. Recently, in addition to the fine natural fabrics we traditionally use, we’ve also begun using modern fabrics like polyester for our bags – the « Trolley bus » or our travel bag the « Gougou bag« . They can even go in the washing machine!