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Regarding Ginetex care symbols and when they were introduced...

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by Better Dresses Vintage, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. Hi,

    I said I'd let you know if I found anything of interest regarding the use of laundry care symbols, and I think I have. In this recent Ginetex Newsletter, page 4 of 4 shows that the symbols were developed/introduced in 1956 (!), and goes from there. It appears that European clothing manufactured as far back as 1958 could, conceivably have those modern-looking care symbols.

    Europe uses the ISO standard 3758-based Ginetex symbols, while the U.S. and items intended for export to the U.S. use the ASTM symbols (similar, but more user-friendly).

    It's remarkable how difficult it can be to find when something "began."

    I used to work for a product safety-testing engineering firm (as a technical writer), and became familiar with all sorts of international safety standards (UL, CSA, ISO, ASTM, etc.). I followed a cyber paper trail to find this document.


    - Liza
  2. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    They started developing them then, but I think you will be hard pressed to find any common use before the 1970s. Apparently Japan and Canada early proponents of international symbols for clothing care. I don't know about Japan, but it was never required to be used here in Canada, but most companies adopted its use alongside a compulsory textile identification bylaw enacted in July 1973.
  3. Righto. But I'm not talking about the U.S., or even items intended for import into the U.S., which use the ASTM symbols. These are the similar, but not identical, ISO symbols, and ISO is an older institution. According to Ginetex, the symbols were developed in 1956, and in use in 1958. Still, I wonder. I mean, it just looks so "modern," y'know?

    But how to explain an item which the original owner (not remotely senile and with no reason to lie, as she didn't know I was looking for vintage and only wanted $1 for the item, so not exactly high-pressure sales!) swore she had bought it "in Paris on my college trip in 1965." The tag is in French only (no translation), and has symbols. Only two possible explanations (a) she's had a memory lapse and this item is NOT from her trip in 1965, although all evidence suggests it is most definitely made in France and sold in Paris, unless the Champs Elysee has moved, or (b) she's a lying lunatic.

    I wish there were a definitive answer. I like a good mystery, but not when it's unsolvable! Ugh. Frustrating.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    I think Ginetex is being optimistic in their date of 1958 (its like computer sites that say the first home computers date from 1975 -- technically yes, but nobody really owned a home computer until well into the 80s! There is a long, boring treatise that I read a while back about the history of international standardized care symbols, and if I remember correctly France used the symbols first but it wasn't even that common in Frnace until the 70s. If that woman has a dress from 1965, I wouldn't think she was lying, but it would definately be the first use of international care symbols I'd ever seen! Do you have a pic of the label? I would love to see if and how the symbols have changed.
  5. It's a little chemise. I will definitely take photos. I had to wash it, stitch up a few seams, and now I have to do my "real" job for a few hours (I had to go back to my "real" job to support my "fun" job. ; )

    Oh, maybe you will have better luck than I did looking up the company info (I mean, if it went into business in 1983 or whatever, it's definitely NOT from 1965, right?). It is:

    "florine champs-elysee paris"
    also, it says, "marque deposee," which means "registered trademark" -- that is another clue.

    I could find NO shop called florine on the champs elysee. But maybe you can??
  6. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    I suspect that this conundrum, i.e, something that technically existed at such-and-such a time but was not in common use until a later date, is similar to that of the plastic and nylon zipper one. You will sometimes see a nylon zipper in a 50s' dress, and it's indeed original to the garment, but people will automatically assume it is later because they weren't in widespread use until the 60s.

    I've seen dry clean-only labels as far back as on a late 40s/early 50s coat, but they would most definitely not be confused with modern labels!

    Then, of course, rather off topic, but related.... There were the two "Victorian" white petticoats--as described by the auction house on its site--that, when inspected in person, were found to have not only modern (70s or 80s) size labels on them, but modern care labels as well! And when yours truly pointed this out, she was told that the oversight would be corrected. Alas, the auction went off without the descriptions being corrected, and I hope there's not a buyer somewhere who inspected her/his purchases post facto and was unpleasantly surprised to find these labels on these "petticoats."
  7. Trust me, I will NEVER pass off something new as old. As I mentioned back when you experts were discussing the crazy person who was passing off items as vintage couture, and said it didn't matter so long as the customer liked it. But it's not a matter of whether the buyer "figures it out" or "cares about it." If you say something is X, and it's Y, you're lying! If you say something is silver, but it's platinum, that's still wrong, even though it's worth more. The customer isn't getting what you promised. If I am unsure about something, I say so. Sometimes, you just can't know for certain, and there's nothing wrong in saying that, in my opinion.

    Funny you should mention Victorian petticoats. I've got one here (perhaps Edwardian), and it is most definitely the real McKoy. Know anyone over the age of 8 with a 20" waist? Me neither ; ).

    If it turns out this little chemise is not old, it's no great loss. I think I'm out a dollar or two, and I suspect my husband would be quite pleased to see it remain here, on me ; ).

    Generally when I either discover something is most definitely NOT vintage, or not vintage ENOUGH for me, I just give it away as a little bonus gift, or give it to my kids as dress-up clothes.

    I had a bakelite bangle (I'm certain) and also happened to have a pair of non-bakelite, probably non-vintage earrings that just coordinated perfectly. I threw them in the box as a little gift when I sold the bracelet. Why not, right?
  8. Was it Ang who once told me that she passed up some highly coveted 1930s dress as phony because it had a nylon zipper, and only later, after she'd gained more experience, did she realize that that particular designer HAD, in fact, used nylon zippers way back then. She said (I think it was Ang) that she still kicks herself for that one.
  9. Just learned from Wikipedia article that the Ginetex symbols developed and standardized (in France) in the late 50s were PUT INTO USE in 1963. So that's some solid info. And makes it more likely that a French garment manufacturer might be one of the earliest adopters, so to speak. Now emailing ISO to ask when letter dry-cleaning agent designations were added to the circle symbol.
    cotmyey likes this.
  10. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    LizaJane, great info on the Ginetex symbols! Not that I see much French apparel here in Hell's Half Acres, but one never knows.....

    And I 200% agree with you here:
    If I'm making an educated (hopefully!) guess on a material of construction or a fabric, I will say I'm not certain. And if I'm unsure about a specific era on something, I'll say that too--unless, of course, there's a chance that it's not vintage at all. Then I don't list it on a vintage site. But since I don't gravitate toward newer things anyway, that's not usually an issue!

    One of my big pet peeves is people who definitively list any shiny black bag or pair of shoes as "patent leather," but it looks like vinyl in the pictures where you can see a worn edge, or it has that very obvious vinyl look to it. Then you write and ask them if they're "sure" it's real leather--then they tell you that no, they really don't know if it's vinyl or leather. (That is, assuming they realize there is "real" patent leather as opposed to "patent-look vinyl.") Well, then, say so in your description--it's not a crime to say you don't know something!
  11. OK, here's the thing, Anne. I'd argue that you, I, and 99.9% of people reading this, know very well the exact definition of patent leather.

    But there are plenty of folks out there who truly think it means "shiny stuff like on your Mary Janes when you were 8 years old." They think the "patent" part refers to "shiny and fake." Or that it's called "patent leather" regardless of what is beneath the shiny coating.

    Call me Pollyanna, but I don't think most people intend to mislead. They are simply clueless (or ignorant, if you prefer). Now, it's the responsibility of anyone selling anything to educate him or herself as to what, EXACTLY, they are selling, or clearly state that they are clueless. But if you don't KNOW you don't know, that's where problems arise (and folks like us get peeved).

    What I mean is, I think a few rotten eggs are indeed truly rotten and dishonest (like the label switchers -- scoundrels!). But the vast majority of the sellers you describe are simply irresponsible, with no malicious intent. They don't realize they are being irresponsible.

    It reminds me of a most memorably bizarre encounter. Back in the late 80s I worked at the CNN center, and there is a small food court in the lobby. I'd go to the Wendy's to get a baked potato. One day I asked if, by any chance, they had real butter (instead of the revolting tub of yellow goo they normally provided). The very friendly, well-intentioned girl behind the counter said, "Sure, hang on." And brought me more tubs of goo. I said, "Thanks, but that's not real butter." She said, "Yeah, it's real butter - margarine." I said "Wait... have you ever seen a commercial where they say, `Tastes just like real butter?'" She said, "Sure." I said, "Now, if margarine WERE butter, why would it need to taste more like butter?" But she'd never considered that, had never read the label, and had never learned (as I later discovered was also the case for more folks than you'd ever imagine) that butter comes from cows (cream) and margarine comes from plants (oil). Clearly, this person did not intend to mislead me. But you can bet she pulls the Parkay out of the fridge and says, "Here's butter." She would also, more likely than not, pull out her plastic shoes and call them "patent leather." Just saying.
  12. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    Oh, I hear you.... I "get it" that many people don't "get it" about patent leather. But my main premise is that people who are selling vintage apparel and accessories online and actually trying to make money at it need to make an honest and concerted effort to educate themselves about what it is they are selling. No, I don't think most people set out to mislead, but I also think there are a lot of sellers who don't bother to take the time to learn their trade, either. If one is going to present oneself as a professional in a certain field, then one must try to learn as much as one can about the items one is selling. Yes? Granted, there are sellers who don't remember when shoes and bags were almost all made from real leather, and don't know leather from pleather--much like your server didn't know margarine from butter. But, if someone is selling items that are, for example, older than they are--they have a duty to learn. Everyone makes mistakes, but mistakes due to not doing one's homework are almost as bad as errors made with the intent to mislead.

    When I peruse a certain site, I am literally flabbergasted by sellers who don't know that a double-knit polyester shift dress is not from the 40s, or that a "crinoline" is not a crendolin, crindiline, or other bastardization. I don't expect a novice seller to necessarily know how to spell the word--but if you don't know, then take the time to look it up! Nobody knows everything about what they are selling when they first start out--or, even after 20 years; it's impossible to know everything. But as a newbie seller, I remember researching everything I listed to death, to make sure I was making a good estimate of the dating, understood the styling, etc. I still do when I'm not sure of something. I admit I was lucky in that I was once a pretty accomplished home seamstress, so basic terminology, fabrics, etc., came fairly easily to me. Of course, I've had to learn more about advanced techniques and construction. And I am a fanatic about leather, so it stands to reason I'm picky about that. But I've actually had people try to sell me shoes/boots/skates that were labeled as vinyl--and tell me they were genuine leather, or I had a lady tell me something was "man-made leather." Now, there is no such thing. There is faux leather, pleather, leather-look vinyl, simulated leather, etc. But there is no such thing as man-made leather. Or shiny vinyl that is patent leather--lol! It's impossible to do.

    Well, off my soapbox! Point is that, yes, sometimes people just don't know--but they need to make an effort to learn!
  13. Yes, I completely agree. That's precisely why I drive you all crazy "confirming" my dates. Sometimes I really don't know, but more often, I just want expert confirmation. And yes, I completely agree that if you are going to do something, you should do it right. Especially when your failing to do so results in misleading someone else (a paying someone else, at that).

    My only point was that, more often than not, it's ignorance, not malice. That doesn't excuse it, no, but it does make an important difference -- ignorance can be fixed, malice most often cannot.

    I've emailed sellers, for example, advertising a 50s dress which clearly has a '74-'95 ILGWU label. They are happy for the correction and the ILGWU info (some have no clue what that label is, can you imagine?). If they were purposely trying to mislead, they'd be angry. In fact, anger at gentle corrections or questions is, to me, a red flag for "dishonest seller!"
  14. Bunny

    Bunny Registered Guest

    Weren't there some books in the past bound in human skin? Now that would really be man-made leather ;)

    I'm just terrible *laughs*

    I can't usually wear fake leather shoes so I'm super picky about that stuff.
  15. Bunny, I really hope not. I know there were lampshades made from human skin (not humanity's shining hour, to be sure), so it's certainly possible. Your avatar makes me happy.
  16. Bunny

    Bunny Registered Guest

    Here's a wikipedia page on that human skin book thing in case anyone is curious. *warning* only for the strong of stomach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropodermic_bibliopegy they mention the lampshades too and Ed Gein(*shivers!*). Not exactly common items but they're around.

    Thanks! I think I saved the bunny pic from the cute overload website some years back.
  17. Hmm... Rather interesting reading, Bunny!
  18. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    Bunny, I generally can't wear non-leather shoes, either, so yes, that makes me very persnickety when trying to buy shoes! Speaking of which, I am lusting after a pair of shoes on Etsy, but the seller gives NO measurements, just the marked size. Well, as we know, marked sizes are not set in stone, especially in vintage. I've convo'd the seller asking for measurements--that was 3 days ago, and no response yet. Can't buy them if I don't know if they'll fit me....

    And I think I'll skip the lampshade article....
  19. Bunny

    Bunny Registered Guest

    I see that with clothing a lot. A seller says a clothing item fits like a size *insert size here, let's use 6*... with no measurements. What brand's size 6? what decade size six? Mom's size six skirt from the 80s so small I can get it over my thighs? Or the modern size six in some brands so large I could fit a jumbo paper towel roll in with me? I need a little help here :duh2: Vintage shoes can have some crazy sizing I have shoes from 7A to 9AAA from the 50s and they're all within half a size of one another in fit. They definitely require measurements listed.
  20. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Queen of Tech Staff Member

    I think there is malice, genuine ignorance, and between the two there is willful ignorance. Many sellers don't bother to learn their stuff too hard because they would rather believe that their 70s polyknit dresses are 40s, or their vinyl shoes are patent leather. Then they can sell them as such, for more money, to the genuinely ignorant.

    I once bought a nightdress listed as silk, which when it arrived was clearly labelled 100% polyester. When I questioned the seller she said 'oh sorry I thought it was silk, yeah should have looked at the label'. It doesn't take much effort to read the label! Had she been deliberately trying to deceive, she'd have cut the label out. She wanted to it to be silk, and so in her mind it was silk.

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