I think we all need to chill. Invest in the clothes we want, take good care of them, and one day pass them on to a new owner,’ says Frege Leuwenhaupt, founder and CEO of Steamery, a Scandinavian brand known for its satisfying range of clothing care products – from signature handheld steamers to a range of fabric shavers, brushes and lint rollers.
It’s an attitude that resonates with recent seasons as designers eschew throwaway trends in pursuit of so-called ‘discreet luxury’ – timeless logos or monograms made with opulent creations made to last. The end of the season. Matteo Blazzi’s tenure at Bottega Veneta perhaps best illustrates this shift – a pair of trompe l’oeil leather pants designed to look like blue jeans is the ultimate statement piece – although his collection of other products is a step in the same direction. ‘Quiet luxury’, the row, Loro Piana, Brunello Cucinelli, Max Mara and Celine among them.
Whether these are brands hanging in your wardrobe or not, it’s worth treating every piece of clothing you buy as an investment. As the founder of The Seam – an outfit that connects consumers with a series of ‘makers’ to mend and revitalize – says Layla Sargent, this is not just about your personal finances, it resonates with the world around you. If clothes are in use for more than nine months, carbon, water and waste are reduced by 20 to 30 percent, she said. Plus, since most fashion trends are cyclical, holding onto your clothes for years — or even decades — to rediscover a favorite or put it on the burgeoning resale market can reap financial rewards.
Here, in The Essential Guide to Garment Care, a team of experts—Lewenhaupt, Sargent, skin care expert Dr. Barbara Sturm (whose recent laundry detergent release saw her bring her anti-inflammation expertise to the laundry room) and Saskia Dijkstra of Extreme Cashmere—extremely care for cashmere. They believe that a jumper can last a lifetime – give them advice on how to wash, dry, store, repair and renew so the content lasts for decades to come.
Correct instructions for clothing care
‘It’s our best advice to make your clothes last longer,’ says Frege Leuwenhaupt of Stockholm-based brand Stemry, which includes a range of tools and products that promise to ‘bring the best out of your wardrobe’. Most of the clothes we put in the laundry basket are lightly soiled and may show minor signs of wear for a day or two. You can steam your clothes instead of unnecessary washing.’
When washing your clothes, she recommends following the care label instructions and choosing the gentlest wash cycle possible (in general, most clothes can be washed at 30 degrees Celsius/86 degrees Fahrenheit). ‘ he says.
The Seam’s Sargent agrees, suggesting spot-cleaning instead of a full wash where you can. ‘If possible, hang clothes in the bathroom if possible,’ she says, ‘an option that refreshes clothes naturally without the need for chemical intervention. ‘If you put clothes in the washing machine, use a low temperature and put delicate fabrics in a laundry bag to reduce wear and tear.’
divide and conquer
Most of us divide our clothes between whites and colors, although Lewenhaupt advises that we should be quicker – not only carefully dividing between colors (brights, lights and darks, for example), but also between softer and stronger fabrics. ‘Failure to follow care label instructions is one of the biggest reasons clothes wash out too quickly,’ she says.
‘When washing your clothes, it’s important to use the right laundry products and techniques to prevent unnecessary wear and tear,’ she says. Be sure to color carefully to prevent color bleeding and select a gentle wash cycle on the machine.’ If there is no time to separate, the self-absorbing sheet will prevent bleeding and dye spills in the washing machine.
Everything is in soap.
‘Your average laundry detergent contains dyes, fragrances and bacteria-killing chemicals that can be very harsh on the skin,’ says Dr Barbara Sturm. Molecular skincare and supplements formulated with anti-inflammatory principles (she believes inflammation is the root cause of skin aging and irritation).
Her recently launched laundry detergent — the first product in Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Home line — offers her own solution, a plant-based formula free of preservatives, enzymes, microplastics, dyes, brighteners and other irritants, replaced with skin-friendly ones. Actives including panthenol, aloe vera and purslane. For simplicity, it is a one-size-fits-all approach; The single product can be used for everything in your wardrobe from sportswear to silk.
She tells Wallpaper*: ‘It’s effective on all types of laundry, including your most delicate pieces and smells amazing – I use it on wool, cashmere and silk at temperatures below 20C/68F. ‘Clean clothes should not come at the expense of your overall health and well-being.’
Steamery, on the other hand, offers a more comprehensive range of detergents – including special formulas for whites, soft, hypoallergenic, dark and jeans and odor control, sportswear.
Know your fabrics (and dry them carefully)
All fabrics are different – and should be washed accordingly. For example, cotton is a stronger fabric and can withstand multiple washes, while fabrics such as silk are softer and should be hand washed in cold water with enzyme-free detergents. Wool should be avoided – it can generally be regenerated by hanging it outside – similar to denim, which can lose its shape and color if washed too often (wash jeans, cold wash and gentle cycle). If in doubt, consult Steamery’s comprehensive fabric dictionary.
Saskia Dijkstra of Amsterdam-based label Extreme Cashmere (available from matchesfashion.com and extreme-cashmere.com) is an evangelist for fabric care, especially cashmere, a fabric that is often misunderstood. “A common misconception is that cashmere cannot be safely machine washed, but all of our cashmere garments are machine washable – cashmere loves water,” she says. “After wearing your sweater two or three times, we recommend washing it on a high-quality wool program.”
After washing, lay the clothes on a towel to dry. Heating iron at a low temperature helps to soften the fibers and return them to their place. And finally, you can remove excess pilling using cashmere combing. With proper care, you can enjoy your favorite cashmere sweater for life.’
The tumble dryer should be avoided for the most part, says Lewenhaupt. “When drying your clothes, we recommend not drying anything except bed sheets and towels. The easiest way to dry your clothes is to air dry them.’
Full steam ahead
According to Leuwenhaupt, steam ironing can be a gentle way to get wrinkles out of your clothes – but ironing compresses the fabric, ‘steaming and swelling rather than compressing the fabric fibers, allowing them to regain their natural shape.’ As well, Steamery offers steamers from their handheld Cirrus range (perfect for travel), the upright Cumulus home steamer or the professional Stratus steamer.
“Steam ironing allows you to remove delicate fabrics such as silk, as well as garments that cannot be ironed due to their shape or texture, such as wrinkled, pleated or embellished garments,” she explains. Steaming kills bacteria and keeps clothes clean. “Our best advice is to let your clothes air out occasionally to keep them fresh and steam them regularly to keep them wrinkle-free and soft. Finish with a scented fabric spray and your clothes will be ready to wear again.’
Store every season
The way you store your clothes is very important, says Sargent, who has previously worked with The Sims with Net-a-Porter and COS: ‘First, get rid of any clothes you don’t use and make room for your stuff. He really cares. Wash, dry, mend and iron all your clothes before putting them away – by doing this, you’ll be happier to finally get something out of storage than having to deal with a lot of work before wearing it again. ‘ she says. When getting rid of clothes, look to the circular retail platforms Vestiaire Collective, Hardly Ever Worn It, or Grailed, which will give your clothes a second life in someone else’s clothes (some platforms will even take them from your front door).
“Vacuum storage bags are a popular go-to—but items made from natural fibers like wool and silk do best in plastic storage boxes,” continues Sargent. Use storage boxes with sealed lids to prevent moths from getting to your items, and if you want to go the extra mile, give your clothes a good air every six to eight weeks and use this as an opportunity to check for any nasty moths. They might have gotten in somehow.’
It’s better to add Leuvenhaup and update your wardrobe. ‘Fill your closet with clothes that suit the current weather and get rid of any clothes you don’t need or don’t fit properly,’ she says. When you’re putting out clothes for the upcoming season, use a steamer to easily refresh your clothes and soften creases. Donate or sell the items you don’t keep so that someone else can enjoy them.’
Repair, repair, repair
The tradition of mending clothes has largely been forgotten, but Sargent – who started tailoring after feeling torn between dry cleaners on the high street and Savile Row, where there was none – says mending is a surefire way to make clothes last. It’s also a way to reduce your environmental footprint: ‘If clothes are actively used, if they last for nine months and extend their average life to three years, this will reduce their carbon, water and waste footprint by 20 to 30 percent. she says.
She says some repairs can be easily done at home – from replacing keys (if you can’t find a matching key, replace the whole set instead) to cleaning clothes using clothes combs. Steamers offer two fabric shaves: ‘Cure is when small pellets or bobbles appear on knitted and woven fabrics and is a common reason many garments are returned or discarded,’ says Lewenhaupt. ‘Shaving the bobs with a cloth will make your cloth look like new again.’
Go to a professional for discreet, invisible, or more complex repairs — especially when it comes to delicate fabrics, adds Sargent. Some fabrics require more special skills than others. To name a few: silk, satin, wool, jersey, jeans, she said, noting that The Sim offers a web chat service that connects your inquiry to the relevant ‘maker’ – a tailor, a seamstress, a cobbler, an embroiderer. An artist or one of the other artisans in the sim community.
What to look for in your own clothes, says The Sim, the most common repairs are ‘holes in woolen items; Damage to shoes and bags; Sneaker restoration and denim repair. Restoring leather goods is also very common, sometimes using a deep clean and specialist leather conditioner can destroy the item for years, great if you want to keep it and wear it for a longer period of time or resell it. ‘