Dating Vintage by Fabric

The Vintage Fashion Guild recently released a comprehensive guide to fabrics, which includes textures, types of printed patterns, weave, and material. As I was perusing the different fabrics listed there were a few items I think needed to be mentioned to aid in dating vintage clothing as well. Some of these do fall under the category of Polyester and have Trademark names, because the fibres were produced/created by different companies. Companies like ENKA, Imperial Chemical Industries and Dupont. Polyesters are made from chemical substances found mainly in petroleum and are manufactured in fibers. I have included the link to this site:

http://vintagefashionguild.org/fabric-resource-a-z

Crimplene: (polyester) is a thick yarn used to make a fabric of the same name. The resulting cloth is heavy, wrinkle-resistant and retains its shape well. Britain’s defunct ICI Fibres Laboratory developed the fibre in the early 1950s and named it after the Crimple Valley in the UK in which the company was situated. Crimplene was used in garments that required a permanently pressed look, such as skirts and trousers. The fabric enjoyed popularity upon introduction in the 1950s in response to its convenient ‘wash-and-wear’ properties. Crimplene was often used to make the typical A-line dress and 1960s fashion. Likewise, it was popular amongst men in British MOD culture for use in garish button down shirts. In the early 1970s, Crimplene began to fall out of fashion. Other, lighter-weight polyester fabrics like Trevira replaced Crimplene for their ease of movement and ventilation.

Crimplene Label on a 1960s Tennis Dress

Trevira: is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in synthetic fibers. Polyester is naturally resilient, meaning it doesn’t wrinkle easily and wrinkles tend to fall out overnight. There were a selection of Vintage Advertisements for this fabric in the 1970s in Vogue magazine.

Trevira Star Vintage Ad Vogue May 1970

Dacron: 1960/70s trademark for a polyester fiber. Dacron is a condensation polymer obtained from ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. Its properties include high tensile strength, high resistance to stretching, both wet and dry, and good resistance to degradation by chemical bleaches and to abrasion. The continuous filament yarn is used in curtains, dress fabrics, high-pressure fire hoses, men’s shirts, and thread. The staple fiber is ideal for mixing with wool in men’s and women’s suits, as well as in dress fabrics, knitted wear, and washable woven sportswear.

Dacron Advertisement as seen in Vogue 1970s

Celanese Arnel: 1940/50s. AAn Acetate fiber. Just defined as ”synthetic fabric”. Later, you may get your knuckles rapped by the Celanese Corporation, which happens to make Arnel with a capital ”A” and points out that it is a triacetate fiber and not a fabric.

Celanese Arnel Fabric Vintage Advertisement. Cute Skirt!

Orlon: Acrylic. The Dupont Corporation created the first acrylic fibers in 1941 and trademarked them under the name Orlon.

Bianchini Silk: Vintage fabric of silk made by reknowned manufacturer Bianchini- Ferier. Bianchini Férier (originally Atuyer Bianchini Férier) was created in 1888 by three former employees of one of the city’s renowned manufacturers of high fashion silks. They embarked on the manufacture and sale of the highest quality silk fabrics, the haute nouveauté. This was the sector of fabric manufacture most closely linked to Parisian high fashion dress design

Tricopaque: A blend of fibers, including Nylon. I have seen lounge wear in this fabric, most notably from Vanity Fair.

Some of the fabrics or fiber names you may come across in vintage clothing are trademarks and may be mentioned on the labels. These include Vycron, Encron, Corfam, Qiana, Avril, Antron III Nylon and Mylar.

Vycron Advertisment in Life Magazine August 1960

For more information there is a comprehensive handy guide here:

http://reviews.ebay.com/Identifying-Fabrics-amp-Fibers-Details-amp-Burn-Tests?ugid=10000000000951489

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Decoding the Fashion label

Last time I blogged about the ILGWU…this is a good indicator of finding a vintage clothing item because the ILGWU merged into the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union in 1995. Another indicator for discovering vintage clothing in Canada is looking for labels without French and English titling on them.

Canada is a bilingual nation. The need for French labeling was important so the many habitants in the nation who spoke French and used French as their first language could read the labels of clothing, food, ect. The official language Act was passed on 1974 and The Charter of the French language was passed in 1977.

The purpose of this language law was to re-affirm the desire of the great majority of Quebecois to make French the common language of work, instruction, communications, commerce and business. The Charter of the French Language established a series of rights and obligations, namely the right for consumers to be informed in French and the obligation for the retail industry to offer products and related literature in French on the Québec market. This results in:

Retailers’ responsibility to make sure that inscriptions on products and on their packaging and the documents that accompany them, are in compliance with the law;

Manufacturers’ and distributors’ responsibility to deliver to the retailers’ products and documents, which effectively comply with the law.

The labels:

Included in the information found on clothing labels are Company Name, Content, Care instructions, Registered identification numbers, manufacturing Country and size.

Where the garment has been manufactured, must be stated not where it was designed. It is common that the clothing company that designed the garment is not located in the same country where it is manufactured. So if the design house is in New York, but the garment was made in Vietnam, the label would state: “Made in Vietnam”.

These days symbols are used for the care instructions. What do they mean?

Symbol Description
Washing symbol: Wash in commercial machine in water not exceeding 95°C, at normal setting Wash in commercial machine in water not exceeding 95°C, at normal setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in commercial machine in water not exceeding 95°C, at permanent press setting Wash in commercial machine in water not exceeding 95°C, at permanent press setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 70°C, at normal setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 70°C, at normal setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 60°C, at normal setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 60°C, at normal setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 60°C, at permanent press setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 60°C, at permanent press setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 50°C, at normal setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 50°C, at normal setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 50°C, at permanent press setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 50°C, at permanent press setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 50°C, at delicate/gentle setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 50°C, at delicate/gentle setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 40°C, at normal setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 40°C, at normal setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 40°C, at permanent press setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 40°C, at permanent press setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 40°C, at delicate/gentle setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 40°C, at delicate/gentle setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 30°C, at normal setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 30°C, at normal setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 30°C, at permanent press setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 30°C, at permanent press setting.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 30°C, at delicate/gentle setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine in water not exceeding 30°C, at delicate/gentle setting.
Washing symbol: Wash gently by hand in water not exceeding 40°C Wash gently by hand in water not exceeding 40°C.
Washing symbol: Wash gently by hand in water not exceeding 30°C Wash gently by hand in water not exceeding 30°C.
Washing symbol: Wash in domestic or commercial machine at any temperature, at normal setting Wash in domestic or commercial machine at any temperature, at normal setting.
Washing symbol: Do not wash Do not wash.
Use of Dots For Defining Temperature of Water for Washing Symbol
Symbol Definition Description
6 dot symbol 95°C Near boil
5 dot symbol 70°C Extremely hot
4 dot symbol 60°C Very hot
3 dot symbol 50°C Hot
2 dot symbol 40°C Warm
1 dot symbol 30°C Cool
Bleaching Symbols
Symbol Description
Bleaching symbol: Use any bleach when needed Use any bleach when needed.
Bleaching symbol: Use only non-chlorine bleach when needed Use only non-chlorine bleach when needed.
Bleaching symbol: Do not bleach Do not bleach.
Drying Symbols
Symbol Description
Drying symbol: Tumble dry at high heat (not exceeding 75°C) at normal setting Tumble dry at high heat (not exceeding 75°C) at normal setting.
Drying symbol: Tumble dry at medium heat (not exceeding 65°C) at normal setting Tumble dry at medium heat (not exceeding 65°C) at normal setting.
Drying symbol: Tumble dry at medium heat (not exceeding 65°C) at permanent press setting Tumble dry at medium heat (not exceeding 65°C) at permanent press setting.
Drying symbol: Tumble dry at low heat (not exceeding 55°C) at permanent press setting Tumble dry at low heat (not exceeding 55°C) at permanent press setting.
Drying symbol: Tumble dry at a low heat (not exceeding 55°C) at delicate cycle Tumble dry at a low heat (not exceeding 55°C) at delicate cycle.
Drying symbol: Tumble dry any heat Tumble dry any heat.
Drying symbol: Tumble dry no heat/air dry Tumble dry no heat/air dry.
Drying symbol: Do not tumble dry Do not tumble dry.
Drying symbol: After extraction of excess water, line dry/hang to dry After extraction of excess water, line dry/hang to dry.
Drying symbol: Hang up the soaking wet article to "drip" dry Hang up the soaking wet article to “drip” dry.
Drying symbol: After extraction of excess water, dry the article on a suitable flat surface After extraction of excess water, dry the article on a suitable flat surface.
Drying symbol: Dry in the shade Dry in the shade (symbol added to line dry, drip dry, or dry flat).
Drying symbol: Do not dry Do not dry. To be used with “Do not wash” symbol .
Symbol Description
Ironing/pressing symbol: Iron with or without steam by hand, or press on commercial equipment, at a high temperature (not exceeding 200°C) Iron with or without steam by hand, or press on commercial equipment, at a high temperature (not exceeding 200°C). Recommended temperature for cotton and linen textiles.
Ironing/pressing symbol: Iron with or without steam by hand, or press on commercial equipment, at a medium temperature (not exceeding 150°C) Iron with or without steam by hand, or press on commercial equipment, at a medium temperature (not exceeding 150°C). Recommended temperature for polyester, rayon, silk, triacetate and wool textiles.
Ironing/pressing symbol: Iron with or without steam by hand, or press on commercial equipment, at a low temperature (not exceeding 110°C) Iron with or without steam by hand, or press on commercial equipment, at a low temperature (not exceeding 110°C). Recommended temperature for acetate, acrylic, modacrylic, nylon, polypropylene and spandex textiles.
Ironing/pressing symbol: Do not steam Do not steam.
Ironing/pressing symbol: Do not iron or press Do not iron or press.

As of 1997, manufacturers could use either words, symbols or a combination of both.

For word labels, the instructions will usually be listed in English and another common language such as French or Spanish. Brands that have far international reach, or wish to market themselves as such, may have five or six languages on their labels.
What is the RN #?
A registered identification number or RN is a number issued by the Federal Trade Commission, upon request, to a business residing in the U.S. that is engaged in the manufacture, importing, distribution, or sale of textile, wool, or fur products. Such businesses are not required to have RNs. They may, however, use the RN in place of a name on the label or tag that is required to be affixed to these products.
The RN#, can be helpful in determining the age of a garment. You can also identify the maker or importer of the garment. RN#s may be printed on the care label, or on the maker name label.  CAUTION:  The RN# issue date does not give the manufacture date of the garment.

 

WPL numbers were issued from 1941 through 1959 under the Wool Products Labeling Act. WPL numbers begin at 00101 and end at 13669. All numbers issued subsequently are RN numbers.

RN numbers were issued under the Fur Products Labeling Act from 1952 through 1959. These numbers start at 00101 and continue to 04086. Beginning in 1959, all numbers issued are RN under the combined act and commence with 13670. The final number contained in this edition is 112208. Complete rules and regulations under the Wool Act,Fur Act, and the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act can be obtained by writing to Textile Section, Division of Enforcement, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue. NW,Washington, D.C. 20580.
Once you find the RN #, you can look it up on the RN database. The database started August 6, 1998, and that is the default issue date given to all existing RN #s at that time. If you look up the RN # and see an issue date of August 6, 1998, the number was actually issued earlier. Expired numbers were not entered into the database. This is a link to the database:

https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/TextileRN/wrnquery$.startup (I have tried to log in here and page failed to load…VN)

You can enter the RN #, or WPL #, and a search will bring up the company that has that number. This is very helpful if you have the RN # and no maker tag. If the company is in the database, you can find out who made or imported the garment. Some older numbers may not appear in the database if they were not current when the database was created.

If you have a maker tag, and you are trying to determine how old the garment is, but you don’t have the RN #, you can enter the company name into the database, and, if the company has a number, it will come up with the company name and address.

How to Estimate the RN # Issue Date
Since the database doesn’t have the actual issue dates for the numbers before August 6, 1998, how do we determine approximately when the number was issued?

A formula was worked out on the Vintage Clothing & Accessories Board by nouveauarts and me. This works only for the numbers issued since 1959. It was determined that an average of 2635 numbers have been issued per year. The earliest number in the series beginning in 1959 is 13670. The formula is:

Your RN #
-13670 (first RN # in series)
Total #s between the original and yours/2635(average #s issued per year) = # of years since issue date
1959 + # of years since issue date = estimated year of issue

What Does the Estimated Year of Issue Tell You?
This is NOT the date the garment was made.  It is the earliest date the garment could have been made. It is not the date the garment was made because companies may keep the same RN # as long as they are in business. It is helpful if you have something you think may have been made in either the 1960s or the 1980s. If the RN # was issued in the 80s, you can rule out the earlier dates. If it was issued in the 60s, you will need to use other means to determine a date for the garment.

NOTE: If something has an RN # of 13670 or higher, it cannot be older than 1959.

CA #s
The equivalent registration number in Canada is a CA #, and may be researched on the Canadian government site. CA Identification Number Search:

http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/app/cb/cnmbr/srchFrm.do;jsessionid=00015mL-_10V8S0ydjauWDe1R82:N08BLK1QO?lang=eng


Resources:

http://www.oqlf.gouv.qc.ca/english/infoguides/selling/selling.html

http://www.ehow.co.uk/list_6082830_laws-clothing-label-requirements.html

http://reviews.ebay.com/Clothing-Labels-RN-and-WPL-and-CA_W0QQugidZ10000000003229985

http://www.textileaffairs.com/lguide.htm

Next Time: I have started loading clothing into my store Shuushuu by LuLu and I will have some photos of models wearing the vintage clothing.