I have always loved laundry and laundering, from pre washing(or even delaying the actual washing through airing and resting) all the way toironing. I may have even wondered if being a ‘laundry influencer’ could be a thing … turns out it is and I may be planning a new career.
This morning I was hanging up the washing before work, a simple task for most people but for me it can take quite a bit more time than most and actually made me late for work. This morning I spent a crazy amount of time straightening out ties on a shirt so that it would be easier to iron when it was dry and I got a little lost in the task. This led to pondering the role of laundry in my approach to fashion and having a good old chat about it in the office when I finally got there.
Apart from my personal love of laundry, laundering and actual laundries (I love the smell of a laundromat), why do I feel this is such an important part of my own approach to a more sustainable fashion future? For me, engaging in the process of caring for my clothes helps embed the concept of quality and value of clothing. But it isn’t just a case of everyone rolling up their sleeve, getting into the laundry and suddenly being inspired to abandon fast fashion. When we ask consumers to buy better, do they even have the knowledge to know what “better” looks like and then how to care for those clothes so that they can last a lifetime? Is this investment of time a ridiculous thing to ask of the modern consumer? Or is it something that should be expected? If we buy and consume products surely we then have a responsibility for them?
My mother taught me to launder in spacious suburban laundry that was always full of clothes and had a bar of bright yellow Velvet laundry soap by the trough and an enormous noisy washing machine. From an early age I have known how to sort laundry, hand wash knits and whiten whites, as well as repair and mend.
“I have always placed a lot of emphasis on laundry” Carmel Conners (my mum)
Laundry (and I think I am including basic mending in this as well, maybe what I really mean is garment care, but I am too far into this post now to change the title), even if you don’t love it as much as I do, is a lifeskill. Being able to launder clothing properly makes clothes last longer, keeping them in wardrobes longer. The time taken to hand wash a jumper makes that jumper seem more valuable, more cherishable.
But laundering clothes, rather than just doing a load of laundry takes more than just time, it requires an understanding of our garments and their needs. For me, doing laundry is a slow process, thoughtful and dare I say quite mindful. With so many settings on a new washing machine we don’t even need to think about what our clothes really need right, we trust the machine so if the washing machine says a two hour wash is needed who are we to argue. Iwould argue that we need to argue, I find it hard to imagine any piece of everyday clothing needing two hours in the wash! But, we don’t just wash for too long, we wash too often. So, I think the first step in a great laundry routine is to try to avoid washing all together.
Caring for the things we own should not be seen as an arduous task, the things we take the time to care for are usually the things we cherish the most – and the things we cherish the most are the things we continue to take great care of and that’s a nice bit of circularity right there.