Whilst in Milan for Fashion Week, I went to a few shows, but the highlight for me has actually been the re-sees. The craftsmanship and actual handiwork in a lot of the pieces is simply not evident from the runway or the runway pictures. Seeing and touching the clothes in person, I could only marvel at the quality of materials and finishing here in Italy. And then I wondered about the dry cleaning bills that these clothes must accrue, which, rather unwittingly, is a trait that most Swedes apparently share.
Let me explain. In my last post, I spoke about the pragmatic nature of Swedes when it comes to fashion, mainly to do with comfort and style. But it also extends to the care of clothes – namely, if it can’t be machine-washed, Swedes ain’t gonna buy it. Which I’ve been told leads an overwhelming number of Swedish labels (high street to designer) to use washing machine-friendly materials when maybe they want to use, say silk for example, instead. And you can almost forget about any heavy beadwork.
But this (begrudgingly?) accepted wisdom on behalf of both consumers and designers could also stem from the fact that dry cleaning is outrageously expensive here. I took a single “fancy” (read: silk georgette by a New York designer) dress to my local dry cleaners in Stockholm and it cost me near 300 kronor. The cost to dry-clean a similar “fancy” dress in New York City? Nine bucks, or roughly 61 kronor, according to friends there right now. I saw a sign here in a Milanese shop advertising 5kg of dry cleaning for 14 euros, or roughly 129 kronor. Five kilograms!
Maybe the exorbitant dry-cleaning prices in Sweden are actually a subconscious act of protectionism? Forget about those extravagant Italian/French/New York/London labels! Buy locally instead! We’re machine-washable! Hurrah! The irony, of course, is that once again, Swedish pragmatism is winning over the world. I’ve seen people actually clap their hands in delight when they discover the coveted item of clothing from the latest Swedish label can be thrown into the wash. No joke, it’s the little victories like these that are winning more and more people over to Swedish fashion.
But selfishly, would it really hurt to try to bring down those dry-cleaning prices just a little bit? Pretty please?