Stu Bloom of RAVE FabriCare wrote last fall to say that he would be instituting a modern version of the sponge and press for those of us who are not fortunate enough to live near a bespoke tailor who offers such a service.
Now there are no signs that Stu has instituted his service yet but the idea was interesting as a sponge and press, particularly the hand ironing press part, is usually all the maintenance that a suit needs unless it picks up a spot or acquires an odor. Suits can tolerate an annual dry cleaning, particularly if that same sponge and press tailor is available to repair the damage done by the cleaners usual attempt to iron the lapels into submission. Unfortunately, few alterations tailors, and those are the only kind of tailors remaining in most American cities, have recognized the revenue opportunity that sponging and pressing suits three or four times a year for $50 (35 euros) an hour might represent.
So, as I wrote, RAVE's prospective offering was of considerable interest. My own indequate attempts at tailored clothing maintenance have over time reduced themselves to the trouser press and my Jiffy steamer. That is because I have received too many dry cleaned suits that went away as a three roll top and returned as a three roll two, or, just as often, the reverse. And I suppose I should not really fault even my otherwise very good cleaning service for inadequately training staff who have most likely never owned a suit or had reason to understand that not all lapels roll the same way. After all, this is San Francisco and there are undoubtedly not many suits cleaned each week in the entirety of the city.
So last night as I contemplated a suit that does not need dry cleaning but would really benefit from a sponge and press, I thought today would be a good day to give RAVE's proposed service a bit of publicity in the hope that signs of prospective demand would get Stu off the dime. His toll-free (in the U.S.) number is 1.800.469.6776. Feel free to tell him ASW sent you.