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Ginetex/ASTM Garment Care Symbol Chronology - UPDATED!

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Chatter - Anything and everything' started by Better Dresses Vintage, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. Hello. After several attempts, I received from Ginetex an answer to my question, which I share here with you. Stand by for long awaited response from ASTM!

    Here, per Ginetex spokesperson, is the chronology of their Garment Care Symbols. This can help a bit with dating. Please be aware that these are for EUROPEAN garments, not U.S. garments, which are covered under the ASTM Standard D5489.


    1. 1958-60:
    The Netherlands gets impatient awaiting a comprehensive system, and registered its own symbols:​

    Soon, the "Paris Symposium" is formed, meets, and comes up with these original 4 symbols:​

    THE ABOVE 4 symbols are in place without change until the first update, in 1985. Note that garments with the above symbols can be dated to before 1985-7 (adding in lag time of 6 months to 2 years, per Ginetex, for companies to adopt new labeling).​

    2. In 1985, symbols changed to these (added tumble-dry, updated other 4):​

    3. In 2004, the order of the symbols was changed. Companies now had to list the symbols in the order that care occurs, with professional (dry) cleaning circle last. So:​
    wash (tub), bleach (triangle), dry (square with circle), iron (iron), dry-clean (circle)​

    4. In 2012, the symbols changed again. Note the "water" in the tub, the iron shape, and the other shapes are all slightly different:​
  2. sewingmachinegirl

    sewingmachinegirl VFG Member

    fabulous work once again Liza- and may I suggest this could be helpful info to add to our cleaning thread as well? G x
    PastPiecesVintage likes this.
  3. joules

    joules VFG Member

    Oh wow! I'm impressed.

    Thanks, Liza. This is interesting/useful.
    PastPiecesVintage likes this.
  4. Great idea Gayle - and great work Liza. Very helpful. Thank you for sharing.

    How funny that when the Paris Symposium releases four designs, three of them are identical to the Netherlands ones that came out a little earlier!
    PastPiecesVintage likes this.
  5. Thanks, guys. And Nicole, I'm sure it's not a coincidence. Can't you just imagine the Dutch reps saying, "Come on, people, get it together already... look, it's not so hard. Just start with this!" and handing over their symbols? I'm sure the people who eventually formed the Paris Symposium all knew each other, y'know? They were probably already working on this, and just showed up with their drawings and took a vote.
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  6. melanostalgia

    melanostalgia Registered Guest

    Thank you so much for the info! But I was wondering: starting when, exactly, where European manufacturers obliged to put care instructions in their garments? And if there is no tumble dry icon present, does that mean a garment predates 1985-87 ?
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  7. Hi, Melanostalgia! Seems to me, according to what they told me, that yes, you can date a European garment to pre-85/87ish if there is no tumble-dry icon present, and the label matches an earlier one shown.

    As far as when they were obliged, hmm... good question! There's a difference between having an agreed-upon system in place, and being required to use it! Looks like I'll be emailing my contact once again.

    I will certainly let you all know what I find out, if anything. This last response took several attempts and nearly 2 years, so please stand by : )...
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  8. melanostalgia

    melanostalgia Registered Guest

    Hah, we'll have to be patient then ; ) Thanks for answering my questions and for the effort!
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  9. melanostalgia

    melanostalgia Registered Guest

    I'm so silly because I forgot the whole point why I was asking this question. I have this lot of 8 deadstock bra's, all made in Belgium. They supposedly date from the 50s to the 70s and I am trying to date each one, but the care symbols are all over the place. For example, I have one that has a brand label as well as a fiber content/care label. It proudly states "Lycra Du Pont's reg trademark for its elastomeric fiber". This made me think it would be from the early 60's, when lycra was introduced for commerical use (1962, says Du Pont) and used a lot in lingerie (according to VFG). But when I look at the care symbols, the tub has wavy water but the iron is also 'wavy' like the one from before 1985. But then there is this other bra, from the same brand with the exact same brand label attached, but no fiber content or care label. Also, there is one bra that has a tumble dry icon and the rest of the icons look nothing like the ones here. (But I think that's because it is one of those early computer printed(?) ones.. I think I'll start a separate topic questioning about those.)

    So maybe, at point 2. 1985 "All the former registrations have been renewed in due time" means that each symbol has been renewed one by one over time, and not necessarily all together at one specific point in time? If this is true, it seems that we need some more info on when exactly the new versions of symbols were taken into use. I guess the presence or absence of a tumble dry icon is really the thing to look for at the moment?

    There also raises another question: does anyone know when exactly European countries were obliged to use fabric content labels? This would help with dating too.
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  10. Hi Melanostalgia. One of the problems is the language barrier. Ms. Agathe Pacard, my contact at Ginetex, tries her best to explain, but as I speak only rudimentary French, and her English is good, but not perfect, I get responses like this one, which is kind of sort of clear, but not crystal : ). She's so kind, and she's trying to help us, and of course I thank her kindly. But we're pretty much back where we started:

    Dear Liza
    Today care information with symbols is not compulsory in Europe, except in Austria (I do not have the date when symbols became compulsory).
    In the previous Eastern countries, before 2010, for some of them it was compulsory to inform about care (I am not sure if symbols were compulsory then, or not).

    I do not help much, sorry !
    Kind regards

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  11. As for your bras, just post photos in the Vintage Q&A public forum. You can bet someone will be able to help you pinpoint the age by style and construction, with or without labels.
  12. melanostalgia

    melanostalgia Registered Guest

    Hmm so she's saying care info with symbols is not compulsory, then we still don't know if care info itself is compulsory or not, haha. Ah well : )

    And thanks for the tip about the bra's, I will do some more research first and then, if I still don't know, I'll post them in the Q&A :)
  13. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ok, what I've been able to find out just quickly - yes, here in Switzerland they are not compulsory. I wouldn't have known!

    Then I remembered that our mail order catalogs used to explain these symbols too, so that would be something to check out (can you tell I devoured them as a kid?).

    Here's the explanations from a 1970 Swiss Veillon mail order catalog. Veillon was a at the time I think fairly middle-of-the-road. Not cheap, but not the most expensive either.
    care symbols.jpg

    This is from the Spengler mail order catalog of winter 1968/69. Spengler was expensive and rather high-end for a mail-order business at the time, and sold licensed lines by Emilio Schuberth for example. The introduction above goes something like "we are sure that you know our care symbol labels with these internally known symbols" - as if they wanted to say that they had already been around for a bit.

    care symbols2.jpg

    This page actually also explains all the materials and fibers and names the countless names for all those crazy synthetic fabrics of the time. Definitely a good reference that I should keep in mind!

    Sadly, the older catalogs I have are too old, as they're 40s and early 50s.

  14. Wow, that's pretty cool, Karin. Too bad "Ich habe keine ahnung" sums up my German, in more ways than one. :oops:

    The colors are easy, and a few of the other words are pretty obvious (Chlorbleiche, et al). But beyond that... might as well be Greek, LOL.
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  15. melanostalgia

    melanostalgia Registered Guest

    Wow, Karin this is great! And also a very good tip, I am now definitely going to be on the lookout for old mail order catalogs! Or maybe try to contact Wehkamp (1952, dutch) or Otto (1949, German and since 1979 in the Netherlands), see if they still have some of this.

    German is no problem for me as a dutchie :)
  16. Oh, now, Melanostalgia, you're just showing off! LOL...
  17. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    Liza, yes, some things are surprisingly similar :).

    Melanostalgia - I have some Dutch ancestors :hiya:. But your German is probably better than my Dutch :). I've acquired a fair understanding of the language, but never dare to speak a word whenever I go there...
    I don't have any vintage German mail order catalogs, just Swiss ones, but I could imagine that they did the same thing too. After all, they should want their clients to know what to do. I look out for those on auction sites (but not Ebay - smaller ones like Ricardo are better here I find, but Ebay is much bigger in Germany, so that may be different...) and at flea markets. I don't find a lot of them, but they do turn up every now or then.

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  18. Pinkcoke

    Pinkcoke Alumni

    Liza do you know what the lack of a triangle/bleaching symbol would indicate in terms of dating? I am listing a mens top with only 3 symbols, washing @ 40 degrees/6 with wavy water, low iron and do not dry clean.
  19. Hm, Melanie. That's interesting. It COULD be that it was from before the "Paris Symposium," (see post #1). But... based on Karin's chart, above, it looks as if there could be times when the triangle is simply left off entirely (no idea why, and the best I can get translated for that column is "observe certain restrictions"). Maybe Karin can chime in with a better explanation of why there is that empty box in the chart? I have no idea!

    Ich habe keine Ahnung! And there you have, more or less, the totality of my German, I'm afraid.

    One last thought --> are you sure they are European Ginetex symbols and not the ASTM symbols used over here? That could make a difference. If the shirt is definitely vintage (pre-90s, at least), then it's unlikely to be ASTM symbols, which weren't required/used before then.

    The whole thing is pretty sketchy and only of moderate use, overall. Similar to the "magic formula" for figuring RN#'s. It works great. Until it doesn't. LOL
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