Laundromat is a Fair Trade knitwear label based in Quebec, Canada and Kathmandu, Nepal. We have been hand-crafting pure New Zealand wool sweaters and knitted accessories in partnership with Nepali artisans since 1993.
We’re best-known for our sweaters—but Laundromat is so much more. We also make skirts, mittens, beanies, bags and other accessories—everything you need to stay warm in winter.
We pride ourselves on using the highest quality natural wool, eco-friendly dyes and handmade trimmings. Laundromat knitwear is made to last. That’s why we offer a Lifetime Guarantee on all new sweater purchases.
Laundromat’s mission goes far beyond just style and comfort. Our commitment to Fair Trade and sustainable development in Nepal has led us to invest in many different social and environmental initiatives. Laundromat has been a fully accredited member of the Fair Trade Federation since 2007. As part of our commitment to ensuring everyone involved in our business is treated respectfully and equitably, all Laundromat products are made for a fair price in healthy working conditions.
Laundromat was founded in 1993 by Quebecer Francis Dubé in partnership with a family-owned knitting business in Kathmandu, Nepal.
But the history of our brand goes back to 1991, when Francis traveled to Nepal for the first time. Inspired by the handmade products he found there, he purchased a few items to sell to friends back home in Canada. Little did he know it was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with Nepal.
For the next few years, Francis traveled back and forth between Kathmandu and Quebec, buying and selling all kinds of handicrafts—from locally made jewelry, to Tibetan singing bowls. Amongst the lot there was some knitwear.
He soon realized that handmade knits were popular with customers in Canada, but didn’t necessarily meet the requirements and tastes of the North American market. Some adjustments were needed! So, with his new Nepali partners, Francis set about establishing Laundromat as a Fair Trade knitwear label.
The first step was to change from ‘one-size-fits-most’ to standard sizing. But it wasn’t as easy as we first thought. In the first year, we ended up with size Medium sweaters that had longer sleeves than the Extra Larges! Through trial and error, we worked out the details, and Laundromat now offers four consistent sizes for both women and men.
Next, we turned our attention to the look of our sweaters. Fuchsia and turquoise jacquard on the collar of a men’s sweater wasn’t exactly what our customers were looking for, so we collaborated with artisans in Nepal to come up with new colors. We learned how to work with heritage designs while using AZO-free dyes to introduce new hues.
The last step was the hardest of all: Design. For this, Francis had to spend a lot of time in Nepal working closely with artisans to learn the basics of knitting. Now, Laundromat partners with a Colorado based designer to develop our signature, timeless designs.
The evolution of the Laundromat brand has been a constant process of learning from our Nepali partners. We will never stop pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to develop new quality products for our customers. Our spirit of collaboration and Fair Trade ethos ensures our suppliers and artisans in Nepal grow and develop, too.
Laundromat has been in business with Nepal since the 1990s. Over that time, we’ve seen many changes take place in this small country in the Himalayas. Through political uprisings that overturned a 240-year-old monarchy, to nationwide workers’ strikes, rolling blackouts and the devastating earthquakes in 2015, Laundromat’s commitment to Nepal has never wavered.
Nepal has a long history of cultivating and working with wool. In fact, some say the name Nepal comes from a Tibetan phrase meaning ‘House of Wool’. Knitting and carpet-making have always been two of the country’s biggest industries. For us, knitting sweaters and woollen accessories seemed like a natural fit. As Kathmandu continues to develop and hand-knitting becomes a less frequent choice of occupation in Nepal, we are committed to doing all that we can to ensure this craft is preserved.
Laundromat provides stable, Fair Trade employment for hundreds of people in Nepal. We have touched the lives of artisans all over the Kathmandu Valley—most of them women—and supported countless households and communities to thrive. We have stood by our suppliers and helped them to innovate, update their facilities, and grow their businesses. We have always maintained the highest standards around sustainable and natural materials, doing our bit to ensure a healthier, greener future for the country.
As Nepal continues to grow and change, Laundromat is committed to doing our bit for a fairer, greener future for all Nepali people. By purchasing a Laundromat product and supporting our work in Nepal, you can be part of that journey, too.
Meet Our Team
Meet the people behind your favourite winter woolies.
President & CEO
Founder and President/CEO of Laundromat, Francis has travelled to Nepal more than 35 times since the early 1990s. He has a background in finance but mostly works in close collaboration with Laundromat’s Design Team.
His favorite time of the year is fall, when the new knitwear samples arrive and photoshoots are lining up! If he was dropped on a frozen desert island, Francis would miss his Laundromat Patchwork sweater most.
VP Finance & Data Specialist
Daniel balances Laundromat’s books the same way he balances his lifestyle—which is to say, very well. He is our go-to person for everything numbers related, period. Be it financial statements, production, inventory, barcodes, raw material, cashflow or even the website, if it can be organized in a spreadsheet, he will find the answer.
Dan is a family man who coached his three kids’ soccer teams for more than 10 years. He’s a proud competitor and practice many sports: Running, dek hockey, mountain biking, skiing and especially shooting hoops at home in the driveway with his kids. His favourite piece in the Laundromat collection is the Pierce.
US Sales Director & Customer Care Expert
If you thought customer service was dead, think again. Marlene looks after a large territory and yet manages to remember the names of almost all our current and past clients. That’s what happens when you dot the i’s and cross the t’s like she does! Her personality makes her the perfect person to handle logistics for all our trade shows, shipment tracking, and more.
Marlene’s go-to jacket is the Shannon, but she probably owns half the Laundromat collection. Around the campfire in the summer, for backyard gatherings with friends, and for forest walks with her three sisters—she’s got a sweater for every occasion.
Canadian Sales Director & Design Fashionista
Design Fashionista? Nancy didn’t earn this title because she’s obsessed with fashion or because her walk-in closet is the size of a living room… It’s because she wears so many hats for Laundromat. Canadian Sales Director, Internet Sales Supervisor, Storyboard Creator for the Design Team, Accounting Assistant, Artistic Director on photo shoots, Pinterest Board Master, Sample Kits Assembly… Nancy has mastered it all.
When she’s off duty, you can find her in her flower garden wearing a different hat—the straw variety—and Laundromat’s Yoko long coat if it’s chilly.
Julie started out running her own US-based knitting company in the 1980s and 1990s. She then transitioned to become Head Designer at Icelandic Design, where for more than a decade she worked with artisans around the world to create countless classics. Even though she is now officially a Freelance Designer, we consider her part of the Laundromat Team. Her dedication and attention to detail make her an essential part of our design process.
Full of energy and creativity, painting and running on a daily basis are must-do activities for Julie! She couldn’t imagine leaving home (even just for an autumn walk) without her Laundromat Helsinki earflap and mittens.
Emily is a freelance writer and communications consultant with a passion for fair trade. After leaving her career as a journalist in Australia, she spent four years living in Southeast Asia where she volunteered for NGOs. She now works with fair trade brands and social enterprises to help them amplify their message. She is an avid traveler and also runs her own blog, Wander-Lush. Emily takes care of Laundromat’s copywriting, social media and communications.
Even though her home city of Brisbane never gets cold enough to warrant a sweater – she has never owned anything made from wool in her life! – Emily can picture herself in a Zoey Poncho on her next winter holiday.