As the owner of the chic line of Ambiance Boutiques on the West Coast, Donna O'Leary is knowledgeable about fashion and the lifestyle trends that resonate with young women. She easily shares, "For this back to school season, we sold a good amount of sweater coats, sweaters, tunic tees and pretty much anything embellished." O'Leary is quick to add that while her average college-bound customer is overwhelmingly motivated by fashion, that consumer also cedes to a cautionary voice in her head. "She clearly wants to look cute first and foremost, but you can tell that she is also assessing the practicality of the garment from both a cost and care standpoint."

For nearly all young women, the college experience includes not only the quest of a higher education, but complete independence and a need to look after her self and her wardrobe. "College age consumers in this exploratory time capsule are testing and redefining their likes and dislikes, loyalties and values. It is at this important juncture that they are responsible for their lifestyle budgets," states Paula Rosario, vice president, retail and fashion marketing, Cotton Incorporated. "It is likely to be the first time they are responsible for the care of their wardrobes and dorm room products."

For the uninitiated, the laundry-challenged and even those with a simple garment care query, help is on the way in the form of Cotton's Dirty Laundry Tour, a mobile marketing festival sponsored by Cotton Incorporated to heighten awareness and exposure of cotton among college students on ten campuses across the country starting on September 20, 2005. The program will also be available to students nationwide via multiple channels, including www.accesscotton.com, the tour's official web site. This multi-platform program will educate young men and women on buying and caring for their clothing and decorating their dorm rooms while maintaining an active, independent lifestyle.

How did you learn to launder your clothing?
Age 16 to 24
Mother74%
Trial and error/Still learning10%
Do not do laundry2%
Myself/Read labels5%
All other7%
Don’t know1%

According to the Cotton Incorporated's Lifestyle Monitor™, three out of four consumers aged 16 to 24 learned basic laundry care from their mothers. But they are still learning by trial and error, and there's a great deal to be learned. The tour's web site hosts a Laundry 101 section where students can log on and learn all about separating whites from darks, the importance of water temperature, and how to care for certain fibers. Every coed - regardless of their level of laundry care expertise - can benefit from the program and carry this important knowledge with them for life, Rosario explains. "This group will soon emerge as full-time wage earners, making this a prime opportunity for cotton brand interaction," she states.

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