National Clothesline
January 2018
National Clothesline
Ban on back burner. EPA is
postponing indefinitely a proposed
ban on the use of trichloroethylene
(TCE) as a drycleaning spotting
chemical, according to a report in
The New York Times.
Just a test. In what they are
describing as precautionary and
proactive testing, Vermont
environmental officials are
assessing child care facilities near
drycleaning sites to see if there are
any contamination concerns.
More classes. DLI has scheduled
seven installments of its
introductory and advanced classes
for 2018 with the first beginning
next month.
Generational divide. If the original
founder of Fairmount
Cleaners could see his business
today, he would probably be
terrified. At least that’s what his
grandson Steve and great-
grandson Adam believe.
Moving forward. This is not the
time to give up or to rely on old
business models. It’s a time to be a
bit creative if you plan to stay in
business for the next 10 to 20
years, says Deborah Rechnitz.

Complete table of contents
of this issue
View the flipbook version here.
A disruptor
for drycleaning
Imagine a competitor with a 200,00-sq.-ft. plant that can
process 5,000 pieces per hour, targets high income
customers in the 25 to 40 age group. This competitor has
already raised $130,000 million to fund its growing
business and has the goal of capturing 10 percent of the $7
billion U.S. drycleaning market.
This is not an imaginary competitor. It’s Rent the Runway,
which aims to replace the closet in the home with a closet
in the cloud.
A look inside this operation was provided by Charles Ickes,
former chief logistics officer of New York-based Rent the
Runway, who spoke during the National Cleaners
Association’s Texcare event in Secaucus, NJ, in October.
The company was started in 2009 by two Harvard Business
School classmates, Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman,
who thought women might be interested in renting rather
than owning high-fashion attire.
The company was still relatively small by the time Ickes
joined it in 2011, handling 150,000 pieces per year with all
the drycleaning outsourced. He brought with him a
background in drycleaning having worked for Madame
Paulette in New York and Dependable Cleaners in
Now he said the company’s drycleaning facility near
Secaucus is the largest in the world with enough business
to keep its 78 drycleaning machines spinning through two
shifts a day with four million pieces cleaned in 2017.
Rent the Runway’s customers can make their selection on-
line at or at one of the company’s
brick-and-mortar stores in New York, Chicago, Washington,
San Francisco and Los Angeles. The price of the rental is a
fraction of what it would cost to buy the garment outright
and that price includes shipping to and from the customer
and, of course, the drycleaning.
“Drycleaning is not something that is really important to
Rent the Runway,” he said. “It’s something they do on the
side. They’re really out to disrupt fast fashion but you, the
drycleaner, will probably be collateral damage.”