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This new technology is key to restoring musty, smelly apparel to first-quality condition.

By Jeff Glassman, CEO, Darn It! Inc.

If you’re a manufacturer, distributor or retailer in the apparel industry, you may have received a shipment of garments with a strong odor. In fact, as a third-party apparel refurbisher, our customers have received shipments of clothing and general merchandise that smells of:

  • Mold or mildew
  • Improperly cured dye
  • Oil or gas
  • Salt water (due to submerged shipping containers)

Today, using ozone shock treatment, apparel that is musty, moldy or smelly can be restored to first-quality condition. Now an odoriferous shipment is no longer an insurmountable problem for the apparel industry.

Quick case study: Ozone shock treatment remediated $1.6 million of musty-smelling garments.

An apparel retailer received a shipment of 12,000 pairs of men’s denim jeans from their overseas manufacturer. This shipment represented $1.6 million dollars in potential sales during the busy holiday season. It wasn’t long before the retailer discovered an issue: a horribly strong, musty odor. Those jeans simply could not be placed on the shelves. Using ozone shock treatment on all 12,000 pairs of jeans, our apparel repair team was able to save the shipment for the retailer in time for the holiday shopping season.

What causes mold, mildew, and that musty smell?

If garments have a musty odor, this indicates that mold or mildew may be festering. How does this happen? The reasons are many: Perhaps the factory operates in humid conditions, garments were damp when packaged, cardboard boxes got wet or shipping containers were damaged.

Third-party refurbishers can offer several options to aid in the odor removal process. Depending on the item or fabric makeup, options include airing out the clothes, hand cleaning, dry cleaning or laundering. The newest technology to treat odoriferous garments and general merchandise is ozone shock treatment.

How does ozone shock treatment work?

Professional ozone shock treatment occurs in a properly constructed ozone treatment chamber. Typically, this is an unoccupied space with sufficient room (and time) given for the ozone to revert into safe, breathable oxygen. Ozone leaves no residue and creates no harmful by-products or chemicals.

When you hear the word “ozone,” you may think this is bad for the atmosphere. However, that is not the case with this process. Chemically, ozone is oxygen with an extra atom added. Electrically, ozone is oxygen with a higher energy level. Ozone oxidizes airborne pollutants and then reverts back to oxygen, transforming polluted air into pure, fresh air.

Use this apparel crisis management “survival checklist” BEFORE disaster strikes.

Every carton of apparel your team opens could contain an unpleasant smell – or other surprise – and throw the team into crisis management mode. When that happens, you’ll need a third-party refurbisher that provides a variety of services and solutions, including a properly constructed ozone treatment chamber. Consider establishing a relationship with the refurbisher BEFORE disaster strikes. That way, if you find yourself in a crisis management situation, you’ll know who to call.

When researching third-party refurbishers based in the U.S., refer to this checklist:

  • Visual inspection – If your shipment has a quality issue, a fast turn-time is critical. Can the refurbisher help you get first-quality apparel on the shelves quickly? Will they offer workable solutions for the remaining garments?
  • Inbound AQL inspection – Can the refurbisher directly receive shipped merchandise at their warehouse? Do they have a trained inspection team to conduct the initial audit (AQL inspection)?
  • Measurement inspection – Your shipment arrives, and you discover an issue with measurements. Perhaps the sleeves are too long, legs are too short, or the head opening is too small. Does the refurbisher offer a well-trained apparel inspection team to inspect your entire shipment, sort garments, and remedy the issue?
  • Relabeling/heat transfer label – Small yet mighty, labels must have accurate content and be placed correctly. One option is using heat transfer labels to cover up wrong size information, add decoration, and update garments.
  • Sewing repairs – Beyond buttons, the apparel sewing staff must be skilled in a variety of tasks including reinforcing stress points, closing open seams, adjusting hem lines, shortening pant legs, and the list goes on!
  • Apparel part/trim replacement – Apparel manufacturers and distributors often need to repair or replace zippers, snaps, buttons, and other parts. Consider swapping out trim to update and refresh an out-of-season item.
  • Apparel cleaning – From rust to salt water, a surprising variety of stains and soiling can be treated via spot cleaning, laundering, or dry cleaning. Look for a refurbisher that has the know-how to tackle stubborn stains and restore garments.
  • Mold and mildew removal – A damp, musty-smelling shipment is disappointing, but not disastrous. Does the refurbisher have an on-site ozone shock treatment chamber to transform musty clothes into first-quality product?
  • Returns processing/reverse logistics – Whether it’s customer returns or end-of-season consolidation, those units must be inspected, repaired and pressed (as necessary), and repackaged to look brand-new. Find a refurbisher that can help you to restore and resell these products.
  • Apparel Repackaging/Ticketing – Packaging or ticketing issues must be resolved quickly and accurately. You’ll want to team with a refurbisher that will ensure your first-quality goods have the right packaging and accurate tickets, along with a speedy turn-time.

When it comes to apparel crises, you may be surprised at how much can be fixed – and how quickly.

There’s an old saying: “You can have it good, or you can have it fast.” With apparel repair, often it is possible to get BOTH. The key is working with a third-party refurbisher that can deliver the skilled workforce and professional equipment to offer a variety of solutions. Seek out a third-party refurbisher that will partner with you in any type of apparel crisis management situation – a refurbisher with the experience to remediate the issue accurately and quickly.

Jeff Glassman is CEO of Darn It! Inc, a third-party refurbisher specializing in apparel and general merchandise inspection, repair, cleaning, kitting, and warehousing (www.DarnIt.com). Jeff can be reached at Jeff@DarnIt.com or (508) 999-4584.



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