As a Fair Trade business, Laundromat and Lost Horizons value long-term partnerships, timeless design, and environmental sustainability.
Who Made My Sweater?
Laundromat knitwear is handcrafted from pure New Zealand wool by artisans in Nepal. We partner with two suppliers to bring our products to life.
Our primary supplier has been a Laundromat partner since 1993. They work with more than 275 home knitters from communities across the Kathmandu Valley. A distribution center in the city employs an additional 80 people. Our secondary supplier works with more than 400 knitters and 250 distribution center staff. Over 90% of all these artisans and workers are women.
The ‘Lost Horizons’ brand is produced by a separate team of 600 artisans who have been working in partnership with our Director of Design, Julie Powell, for many years.
Once a new Laundromat design is ready to go into production, our suppliers follow an initial process of planning and testing. In the distribution center, locally dyed wool is weighed and divided into small bundles. Representatives from different knitter’s groups come to the center to receive their orders, the design specifications and the required amount of wool. Back in the community, the work is distributed amongst the members of the collective.
Knitter groups vary in size from eight to several dozen women. Our largest group is managed by four sisters, who employ 50 artisans on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Each of our highly skilled knitters receives fair compensation for their handiwork.
Once an order is complete, it comes back to the distribution center for finishing. Fleece linings are cut by our Master Tailor and stitched into each sweater; a job traditionally reserved for men. The final touches are added—embroidery, buttons, zippers, pompoms, and other trimmings. Finally, each item is inspected, tagged and packaged for shipping. An all-women team takes care of receiving and distribution, keeping ledgers and managing orders.
By the time it reaches you, your Laundromat sweater has passed through the hands of dozens of people—each of whom benefit from Laundromat’s Fair Trade way of doing business.
Fair Work, Fair Pay
Laundromat has been an accredited Member of the Fair Trade Federation since 2007. Our holistic approach to Fair Trade ensures everyone involved in our business—from our artisans in Nepal, to our Canadian team members, to our customers around the world—is treated with respect.
The majority of our artisans are women from small villages around Kathmandu. They work from their own homes, at their own pace, and for their own profit.
Artisans are paid in local currency on a per-item basis. Wages are pre-established through negotiations between our suppliers and Master Knitters—experienced craftspeople who represent each village or region.
Laundromat artisans earn significantly more than the national average income. Our Fair Trade way of doing business empowers women (not only within their own households, but also within the community at large), and has helped countless families to raise their standard of living.
Healthy working conditions
Nothing is more important to us than ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for all our employees. Over the years, Laundromat has been instrumental in assisting our partners in Nepal to develop their facilities.
Employees in our primary distribution center in Kathmandu enjoy some of the best working conditions in the country. The center is lightning and earthquake proof (up to 8.3 on the Richter scale), with large windows, excellent ventilation, fire exits on all floors, World Health Organization-standard drinking water, a generator and solar panels to mitigate power shortages, and a quiet garden.
Staff generally work eight hour days, with proper lunch and tea breaks. They earn double the hourly wage for any overtime worked during rush periods. Wages, breaks, holidays, and other employee rights are all determined through negotiation and meet or exceed local labor laws.
Laundromat has been doing business directly with Nepal since 1991 and working with the same family-run knitwear supplier since 1993. Our partnership with our Nepali colleagues is based on trust, equality, and sustainable growth.
We have weathered many storms together—from political uprisings, to strikes, rolling blackouts, and most recently, earthquakes.
Our personal connection with our suppliers and artisans is close-knit. Learn more about our relationship with Nepal.
As part of our mission to give back to the communities we work with, Laundromat regularly supports a number of social initiatives. In Nepal, we have sponsored education costs for staff in our distribution center, assisting some students to reach university level.
At home in Canada, Laundromat supports various local charities through donations and fundraising.
Timeless Design & CraftsmanshipLaundromat products combine Canadian design with Nepali craftsmanship. We are not a trend-driven or fast-fashion brand—our sweaters and accessories are made to last a lifetime. All our sweater and knitwear designs are original to Laundromat and produced in limited runs.
Echoing the multiculturalism of our founder’s home country of Canada, Laundromat designs are inspired by Inuit furs, French-Canadian patchwork, Cowichan native artistry, Irish cables, and Scandinavian patterns. We also draw inspiration from traditional Nepali and Tibetan designs, and vintage-style motifs.
The Master Knitters and talented artisans who bring our designs to life do so using skills that have been passed down through the generations. In Nepal, knitting is a communal activity that supports social bonding. When artisans can make a fair living practicing their craft, traditions are kept alive and families are more likely to stay together.
Laundromat continuously designs new products to allow our artisans’ skills to develop and flourish.
Natural & Sustainable Materials
Laundromat products are exclusively made from natural and sustainable materials. Laundromat uses local Nepali materials wherever possible to ensure the integrity of our products and support local industry.
All Laundromat knitwear is made from 100% pure New Zealand sheep’s wool, a naturally biodegradable and a renewable resource. We purchase our wool from marketplaces in Kathmandu to support merchants and keep profits in the country. The raw wool is carded and spun at a local workshop.
Our wool is colored using high-quality, AZO-free Swiss dyes. Low-impact dyes are better for the environment and safer for workers to handle. Our dyes are free from heavy metals and other toxic compounds, and have a higher absorption rate, meaning less chemical runoff. Laundromat’s dying facility has waste and water management strategies in place to minimise negative environmental impact.
Laundromat knits are always lined with either cotton or polyester fleece for extra warmth and comfort. Our transition to cotton has allowed us to cut down on the amount of synthetic fiber we use by about 25-30%. We are currently working towards using sustainable hemp-based fleece linings.
Faux fur & faux suede
As part of our commitment to animal rights, all fur and suede used in Laundromat designs is faux and cruelty-free. While it’s still a synthetic fiber, we feel these are much better alternatives to animal fur and leather.
Handmade buttons & zipper pulls
Many of our sweater designs feature handmade fasteners made locally in Nepal. Horn and bone trimmings are carved from reclaimed animal waste, and our branch buttons are crafted from recycled wood.
Laundromat designs use YKK Zippers. Their superior quality means they almost never need to be repaired or replaced, adding up to a more sustainable product with a longer lifespan.
Plant a Seed
Laundromat supports a range of environmental initiatives—from shipping by land and sea rather than air to limit our emissions, to supporting our supplier in Nepal to transition from using generators to solar power.
Since 2016, Laundromat has partnered with Clean Up Nepal for our Plant a Seed initiative. The idea is simple: On behalf of each of our wholesale clients, Laundromat sponsors a native tree to be planted somewhere in Kathmandu. Established trees are typically planted in parks, near busy roads and by riverbanks by NGO staff and community members (including youth and women’s groups). Their involvement helps to guarantee community engagement around the issue of conservation.
Plant a Seed allows Laundromat to offset our carbon footprint while contributing to a healthier, greener future for Nepal. So far, Laundromat’s Plant a Seed initiative has seen more than 350 new trees planted in different locations across the Kathmandu Valley.
As part of our commitment to slow fashion and sustainability, Laundromat offers a Lifetime Guarantee on all new sweater purchases. Our knitwear is made to last using the finest quality natural materials and craftsmanship—that’s why Laundromat has a minimal return rate on our sweaters. If you do notice a flaw in your garment, be it faulty stitching or a pulled yarn, we encourage you to have it mended—on us.
Instead of returning your sweater to us, we encourage you to have it repaired locally.
For more information and conditions, please refer to our Guarantee and Returns.