Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Wrinkle Process Means Little Ironing for Cotton Shirts

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Wrinkle Process Means Little Ironing for Cotton Shirts

Article excerpt

It may not be one of the world's pressing problems, but Japanese and American companies seem on the verge of a technological breakthrough: cotton shirts that require little or no ironing.

Without so much as a collar touch-up, the shirts are "OK to wear even for a formal occasion," said Shizuo Watanabe, an executive at a Japanese company with a popular no-iron process.

To make his point, he abruptly stood up, stripped off his jacket and pulled his shirt out of his pants. There, on the shirttail, his wife had written "14" - the number of times the shirt had been washed without ironing.

In Tokyo, Choya Corp., a Japanese clothing manufacturer, earlier this month began selling 100 percent cotton dress shirts that need almost no ironing.

And many leading American shirt brands, including Arrow and Van Heusen, are expected to be available in low-wrinkle cotton in the United States by Father's Day.

"It may be the ultimate product," said Watanabe, who is a manager at Nisshinbo Industries, the textile company that developed the process used to make Choya's shirts.

The process is also used in shirts made of a 50-50 cotton-polyester blend that have been best sellers in Japan since their introduction in August. The shirts are said to be softer than their permanent-press forebears and require no ironing even after repeated laundering.

The all-cotton version is nearly as wrinkle resistant, he said, although a woman in Tokyo who recently bought one said she was disappointed."It didn't look anything like the store display," she said. "It needed ironing - though not as much as a regular cotton shirt."

She also said the fabric was thicker than what her husband preferred. "The miracle is not so easy," she said.

Cotton breathes. It is soft. It absorbs perspiration. And it has the added cachet of being a "natural" fiber. But high prices and its tendency to shrink and wrinkle have limited it to a small share of the dress-shirt market - less than 20 percent in the United States, by industry estimates. …

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