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Find your brand

How to track down your favorite clothing

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RN number

The RN (registered number) is found on the care label in U.S. clothing.

Cynthia Nellis

Has your favorite fashion brand disappared from the racks? Do you want to track down a certain style you saw in a magazine?

The best way to find a specific clothing brand is to go straight to the manufacturer.

Unfortunately, finding the brand can be daunting; most apparel manufacturers have many different lines, while their corporate name (the one you'd need to find a phone listing) is difficult to track down.

And to make it more confusing, many retailers have their own private brands.

But there are ways around the confusion.

Just follow these tips for finding your favorite brand the easy way:

Search online

The most obvious search is to look for a related website; start by plugging the name of the clothing line into an online search such as Google.

Another method is to use online yellow pages, such as SmartPages. If you believe the brand to be from the U.S., then enter "New York City, NY" into the area where the yellow pages will search for the business (many apparel firms are represented there).

Professional directories, like Infomat are also an excellent sources of clothing brands, both from the U.S. and internationally.

Use social media

Most fashion labels and brands use social media to connect with customers. It's a great place to go directly and ask a store or a brand where to find something. On Facebook or Twitter, search for the name of the store where you bought the item or the brand itself to find the relevant page.

Most retailers and brands have people who monitor the pages for questions, so your search for your favorite brand will end up going to the correct person.

Use the RN number

All apparel in the U.S. must either have a company name or an RN (registered number) on the label.

The RN can be traced back to an individual business -- the manufacturer, distrubutor or retailer -- thanks to the registration program run by the Federal Trade Commission.

Look at the photo in the top right hand of this page to see how RN numbers often appear on a label.

Once you have the number, follow the link to the FTC's online database (right, under "Elsewhere on the Web") and enter the RN number to find the manufacturer or retailer of the item.

The data search should return an address or phone number (or both) and you can contact the manufacturer or retailer from that point.

Call the store

If you remember where you bought or saw the brand in question, you can always try calling the store directly.

The customer service department may be able to help you, or they may refer you to the merchandising department.

What to do once you have contact information

If your search works and you get an address and/or phone number, remember these tips for making the most of your conversation with the manufacturer:

-When looking to duplicate or replace a certain style, locate the "Style" number on the garment label and have that ready.

-If you saw a certain item in a magazine or TV show, try to have the description and where you saw it ready.

-If you're just looking for a local retailer of the brand, ask the manufacturer for local retail outlets (even better: ask them to mail you a list).

What to do if you don't have any luck with these methods

Remember that the fashion industry is highly volatile and there's a good chance that an untrackable manufacturer has gone out of business.

You can always search Ebay for vintage and used items of your favorite brand, even after the company is long gone!

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