Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Folks Want Blacker Blacks, Not Whiter Whites

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Folks Want Blacker Blacks, Not Whiter Whites

Article excerpt

EVERYTHING'S BLACK THIS SEASON, which has the usual advantages. Black makes you look 10 pounds thinner; it's unmemorable, so you can wear it over and over; and it matches all your other black stuff - unlike, say, navy, which comes in a million shades.

One problem: It hardly ever stays black. Especially if it's cotton and especially if you wash it, it gets grayer each time. So you end up with the same problem you have with navy: a million unmatching shades - only worse, because washed-out black never looks intentional, as if it had been meant to be dark gray from the beginning; it just looks washed out.

You might think a scientific establishment with the brainpower to defeat ring-around-the-collar would be able to solve the problem of keeping black leggings black. And now Dave DiGiulio says he's done it.

DiGiulio is director of product development for laundry at Procter & Gamble, which came to focus on the problem after spending time at "clothing donation sites" - i.e., thrift shops - to find out what persuades consumers that their clothes are too old and ratty to wear. A leading culprit, they found, was faded color.

But when they looked closely, P&G's laundry scientists found that the problem wasn't what you might expect. It isn't that the dye washes out of the clothes. The color's still there; you just can't see it clearly because the garment surface ends up coated with a whitish fuzz.

"Washing, drying and wearing clothes is mechanically stressful," DiGiulio explains. He means for the clothes, not you. Being agitated and tumbled and rubbed breaks down the crystalline structure of their cotton fibers, creating little surface ruptures not unlike split ends, where the fiber structure becomes "amorphous," or fuzzy.

This fuzz of broken fibers obscures the original color, making clothes look worn, faded and unkempt. Eventually, it can wad up into pills and look even rattier. …

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