The next big thing in fashion? Not washing your clothes

The next big thing in fashion(ˈfaSHən)? Not washing(ˈwäSHiNG,ˈwôSH-) your clothes(klō(T͟H)z)

“We risk(risk) turning the customer off by making them feel like we’re suggesting they be less hygienic(hīˈjenik, hīˈjēnik). We’re going up against years of cultural(ˈkəlCHərəl) conditioning(kənˈdiSHən) here.”

By Elizabeth(əˈlizəbəTH) Segran

I have a confession(kənˈfeSHən) to make: I’ve been wearing(ˈwe(ə)riNG) the same black T-shirt every single day for two weeks now and I haven’t washed it yet. Anybody who knows me will realize this is very out of character(ˈkerəktər). I’m a laundry(ˈlän-,ˌlôndrē) addict(ˈadikt). I get inordinate(inˈôrd(ə)nət) pleasure(ˈpleZHər) out of transforming my toddler’s(ˈtädlər) mud-(məd) and applesauce(ˈapəlˌsôs)-covered(ˈkəvər) clothes into freshly(ˈfreSHlē) laundered(ˈlän-,ˈlôndər), neatly(ˈnētlē) folded(fōld) piles(pīlz). And yet, I may hold off on washing this T-shirt for another few weeks. It miraculously(məˈrakyələslē) looks (and smells!) like it was just cleaned. This $65 T-shirt is made by a startup called Unbound(ˌənˈbound) Merino(məˈrēnō), founded in 2016, that creates wool(wo͝ol) travel clothes that can go weeks without being washed.

Unbound is part of a broader(brôd) wave(wāv) of startups designing clothes that require less laundering. An eco-friendly brand called Pangaia(pinˈgayə), which launched late last year and already counts celebrities(səˈlebrədē) like Jaden(jādən) Smith and Justin(ˈjəstən) Bieber as fans, creates $85 seaweed(ˈsēˌwēd) fiber(ˈfībər) T-shirts that are treated with peppermint(ˈpepərˌmint) oil to keep the shirts fresher longer between washes. The brand estimates(ˈestəˌmāt) that this will save about 3,000 liters(ˈlēdər) of water over the course of a lifetime, compared to a regular cotton(ˈkätn) T-shirt. Then there is menswear(ˈmenzˌwe(ə)r) label Wool & Prince(prins), which creates everything from $128 oxford(ˈäksfərd) shirts to $42 boxer(ˈbäksər) briefs(brēfs) out of wool, all designed to be washed infrequently. Last year, the company launched a sister womenswear brand called Wool& that makes dresses(dres) that can be worn(wôrn) for 100 days straight(strāt) without washing.