Innovation That Matters

Laundry chic

Work & Lifestyle

There are still plenty of stale service industries that would benefit from a Starbucks-style overhaul. Which, for true Springwise enthusiasts, spells endless OPPORTUNITY. What, for example, about laundrettes and dry cleaners, often synonymous with sloppy service, harsh chemical treatments, not to mention quit a bit of hassle? (Don’t get us started on missing socks, sweaters going from XL to S, or red magically turning into orange…) Giving it a spin are New York based Slate and LaundrySpa, two laundrettes/dry cleaners offering new style luxury cleaning, and adding a nice dose of convenience and eco-friendliness, too. (Source: PSFK.) Slate is an all-inclusive laundry service for NYC residents available through the web. Customers sign up for a weekly flat fee of USD 50-60 (GBP 29-35/EUR 42-50), receive a Slate hamper, then choose a pick-up time. Which means no standing in line, no counting and itemizing, no financial surprises: Slate does the sorting, and determines which garment needs to be cleaned by which process (anything from hydro-carbon, wet-cleaning, hand washing, to regular laundering). Cleaned clothes come back wrapped, tagged, and good as new. The environment also gets a gentler treatment, as the company uses a combination of bio-degradable and organic agents. In Slate’s own words: “You are dealing with someone who speaks your language. You bought USD 250 dollar jeans and you are taking them to be cleaned where? To the run-of-the mill cleaner in his dreary shop down the block, who doesn’t care as much for the clothes as you do? We speak the same language: fashion. When your clothes come back, they as new as the day you bought them at Barneys. On the surface we are a clothes cleaner, but underneath we are a fashion label.” The Laundry Spa offers a similar, Manhattan-only 48 hour full-service laundry pick-up and delivery business, with an even stronger emphasis on pampering valuable threads: (“The Laundry Spa is the first service that treats your clothes with the respect, indulgence, and pampering they truly deserve”). If requested, clothes are even scented; think lime or lavender aromatherapy.


No doubt Slate and SpaLaundry would work equally well in Sydney, Sao Paulo, or any other city with a sizable, moneyed workforce. It also shows that everything can be reinvented: these companies are turning a typically low-cost, last-resort service into a must-have, premium product. Which cleverly ties in with a consumer society increasingly dominated by consumers trading in quantity for quality, opting for luxury goods and services across the entire experience. After all, consumers spend valuable time hunting down the latest fashion, or that must-have garment, plonking down top dollar for it, even taking great care when storing their treasures, only to find the last part of the cycle, the cleaning process, to be stuck in low cost, mass-era thinking. In fact, if we were Procter & Gamble or Unilever, we would try to buy Slate or LaundrySpa.Anyway, given the high probability of you not working in the laundry business, ask yourself what the missing links are, the stuck-in-the-past laggards in your own industry-at-large or consumer-experience cycle? Nothing beats innovating when you set out to start with a clean slate 😉


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