The Laundress

Unilever has acquired eco-conscious laundry brand The Laundress.

The company aims to make laundry more luxurious with products like Wool and Cashmere Shampoo, $19. It was started in New York in 2004 by textile experts and fashion industry veterans Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd, who previously were at Ralph Lauren and Chanel, respectively.

The brand’s products underscore the blurring of beauty with other consumer categories. The Laundress, for example, sells a $45 Le Labo Santal Signature Detergent. The Brand has 85 different washing products, including an All-Purpose Bleach Alternative, $15; Denim Wash, $19, and Fabric Conditioner, $18.

The brand helps Unilever expand its better-for-you laundry portfolio, which already includes products from Seventh Generation, which it bought in 2016, and Love, Home and Planet, a brand it started in 2018. The Laundress provides more niche fabric-care products at a higher price point than either existing brand, and has reached into specialty retail channels as well as a strong direct-to-consumer presence.

In addition to the brand’s SoHo, N.Y., flagship and its web site, The Laundress products are sold at Net-a-porter, Le Labo, Bloomingdale’s and Shopbop, among other retailers.

Whiting and Boyd will continue to run The Laundress from the brand’s SoHo headquarters.

“With its line of beautifully crafted, eco-friendly products and fast-growing followings in the U.S. and China, particularly among Millennials, The Laundress is a strong addition to our portfolio of leading home-care brands,” said Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever’s home-care business, in a statement. “Its distribution network across specialty retailers, direct-to-consumer and e-commerce, combined with Unilever’s global reach, creates an ideal launch pad toward giving more people around the world the distinct ‘The Laundress’ experience.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. For its latest quarter, Unilever’s home-care sales were up 3 percent, to 2.5 billion euros. The company said growth was driven in part by emerging markets, but also by innovations, like Day 2 dry wash spray and Comfort Perfume Deluxe.

Unilever is not the only consumer packaged goods giant with a growing laundry business. Procter & Gamble has also posted gains in fabric care, with 2 percent growth for the most recent quarter, to $5.56 billion. The company said increases were driven by “disproportionate growth of premium products” and innovation.

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