Reprinted from Textile World

Clothing soaked in salt water was restored and ready for retailer’s promotion

By Jeff Glassman

The textile industry encompasses nearly every “corner” of the globe. And there’s the rub. A company’s apparel may be manufactured, assembled and shipped from virtually any continent. Many apparel manufacturers and distributors unfortunately have opened cartons shipped from across the country — or across the ocean — only to find a heart-stopping issue.

Cartons Of Clothing Soaked In Salt Water

Recently, Darn It! Inc., a third-party apparel refurbisher, received a frantic call from an apparel manufacturer in the midst of a crisis. The freight forwarder informed the company that two shipping containers of pants, which were due at the distribution center the next day, would arrive late. Worse yet, the shipping containers — containing 20,000 pairs of pants — had been submerged in salt water at the port during a storm. Cartons were crushed, and the pants were thoroughly soaked.

Naturally, the timing could not have been worse. In two weeks, the pants should be on retailer’s shelves throughout the nation and available online for a big promotion. Complicating matters, the pants were coordinated with a jacket, which had already arrived at the distribution center.

Darn It! requested a few sample pants and after inspecting them determined that the problem could be remediated. Fortunately, mold and mildew had not started to form on the fabric. However, the pants did have a slight odor. Darn It! discussed a variety of solutions with the apparel manufacturer and it agreed to apply all the solutions to solve the problem in the most complete manner possible.

The battle plan was as follows:

  • Some pants were spared and had not gotten wet. These pants were hung up to air them out. In addition, the garments received an ozone shock treatment to eliminate the musty odor and bring back the original fabric smell. This treatment involved placing the apparel in a state-of-the-art ozone chamber, which kills mold and mildew and ensures it won’t grow back.
  • Most of the pants had been soaked in salt water. Darn It! laundered these pants to kill festering mold and to remove the salt water, which could damage the fabric.
  • Once all pants were pressed and inspected, they were reticketed, bagged in new polybags, placed in new boxes, and shipped to the apparel manufacturer.

The entire process of apparel inspection, ozone treatment, laundering, pressing, reticketing, repackaging, and shipping was completed in less than two weeks. The apparel manufacturer was able to match the pants with the jackets, deliver them to the stores, and get the product online in time for the big promotion.

Apparel Manufacturers And Distributors Are Often 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. Plus, it’s important to team with the refurbisher to discuss and select the solution that best solves the problem at hand.

Use This Checklist Before Disaster Strikes

Look for a third-party refurbisher that provides a variety of services and solutions. Consider establishing a relationship with the refurbisher before disaster strikes. That way, when faced with a crisis management situation, a phone call can happen quickly.

When researching third-party refurbishers based in the United States, refer to this checklist:

  • Visual inspection — If the shipment has a quality issue, a fast turn-time is critical. Can the refurbisher help get first-quality apparel on the shelves quickly? Will it offer workable solutions for the remaining garments?
  • Inbound Acceptable Quality Limit (AQL) inspection — Can the refurbisher directly receive shipped merchandise at its warehouse? Does it have a trained inspection team to conduct the initial AQL inspection?
  • Measurement inspection — The shipment arrives, and an issue with measurements is discovered. 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 the 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 to use 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 restore and resell these products.
  • Apparel Repackaging/Ticketing — Packaging or ticketing issues must be resolved quickly and accurately. Team with a refurbisher that will ensure first-quality goods have the right packaging and accurate tickets, along with a speedy turn-time.

The Goal Is To Get First-Quality Condition Apparel ASAP

Apparel manufacturer or distributors need to address these types of issues as quickly as possible to get garments to first-quality condition. Next, product needs to be on the shelves and directly into the hands of customers as soon as possible. Seek out a third-party refurbisher to partner with in any type of apparel crisis management situation — a refurbisher with the experience to remediate the issue accurately and quickly.

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