What do you get if you cross a former NASA space engineer with a laundrette? The answer is Oxwash – an innovative laundry service provider that is re-engineering the industry for a more sustainable future, offering what it calls “space-age washing” with a “clinically clean” finish.
Within the fashion and retail sector, Oxwash provides business-to-business (B2B) cleaning services for brands’ and retailers’ such as Vivienne Westwood and Nadine Merabi, but has also emerged as a central part of the UK’s recommerce ecosystem by offering an end-to-end, fully integrated, circular laundry service that enables fashion businesses to deliver rental and resale, and operate more sustainably. It has established partnerships with rental platform Hurr, resale platform Kidswear Collective, and powers H&M’s rental model in the UK.
A greener future – one wash at a time
Founded in 2018 by Kyle Grant, Oxwash began life at Oxford University, where Grant was studying for a PhD after leaving NASA. Becoming frustrated with the perpetually broken washing machines in the college laundry, Grant decided to launch his own alternative.
“Starting with just a bike and a backpack, I began collecting and washing clothes for fellow students, which quickly snowballed into a growing on-demand laundry service and then a B2B offering as interest grew,” Grant tells Drapers. “However, it was during this early phase of the business that I started to enquire with local laundrettes and realised just how alarmingly unsustainable the industry was. The environmental impact of traditional washing methods was staggering.”
Sustainability quickly became core to Oxwash, driving Grant to innovate across the whole business – from the washing machines and detergents he chose, to the electric bikes and vans for pick-ups and deliveries.
“We are committed to investing in innovation and new technology to help drive the circular economy forward,” he says. “Our team of experts is constantly exploring new ways to improve our processes and reduce waste – whether that’s through the development of new cleaning technologies or the adoption of more sustainable materials.”
Oxwash uses less water than traditional laundry services thanks to its state-of-the-art machines, while also reclaiming and reusing old water. In 2022, it estimates that it saved 4.6 million litres of water across its three sites compared with a typical commercial washing machine – that is apparently enough to fill 57,400 baths.
It has also invested in a carbon removal strategy to become carbon neutral, says Grant. “Our carbon neutrality is backed up by a portfolio of permanent carbon removal projects. These are rigorously vetted by our partner [carbon measuring and offsetting platform] Supercritical to ensure their impact and lack of negative side effects. By investing in carbon removal, we are taking proactive steps to remove unavoidable emissions in our operations and supply chain now, and mitigate the impact of our operations on the environment.”
With its sustainability-focused technology and innovative processes – the company achieved B Corp certification in July 2022, which is a rigorous standard for a company’s environmental and social impact – it is helping the fashion industry to deliver on sustainability progress, while extending the life of clothes as part of the circular economy.
Brands and retailers wanting to offer their own rental or resale can plug into Oxwash’s existing set-up or create a unique collaborative service that works within their own business model.
“With the launch of our new national facility, Big Blue [which will be based in Swindon and is launching in Spring 2023], we will be able to offer our rental and resale partners an even more bespoke service, tailored to their unique business needs. This facility will enable us to fully integrate their circular model with ours, allowing us to provide end-to-end solutions that cover everything from fulfilment to inventory management, garment cleaning and repairs.”
Hurr x Oxwash
Victoria Prew, CEO and co-founder of fashion rental platform Hurr, which has worked with Oxwash since late 2020, discusses the partnership.
How important is the process of cleaning Hurr rental fashion products to your business model?
The process of garment cleaning is critical to our business model, as well as to our customers.
With a cleaning process that can take just 20 minutes thanks to Oxwash, we can thoroughly clean and sanitise every garment so they are delivered to customers as an “as new” product – and quickly.
Working with more than 130 luxury fashion brand partners, this means we are able to provide a premium rental experience that meets the needs and expectations of the Hurr community.
Why did you choose to partner with Oxwash?
I’ve watched the Oxwash team completely re-engineer the garment cleaning process from the ground up, reinventing everything about cleaning as we know it.
Every Hurr item has a unique cleaning and finishing process, so working alongside Hurr’s garment science team and Oxwash’s tech teams, we’ve been able to re-engineer the cleaning process while ensuring every rented item arrives in perfect condition for our customers.
Extending the lifespan of each of the 45,000-plus garments that Hurr holds is also critical to hitting the highest garment-utilisation rates required to scale a model such as ours, which we can achieve with Oxwash.
How important are Oxwash’s sustainability initiatives to your partnership?
As the world’s first fashion rental platform to achieve B Corp status, it’s critical that our cleaning partners are also held to the highest possible sustainability standards.
As the first certified UK B Corp laundry platform, Oxwash has the world’s leading carbon-removal initiatives and through its innovative tech, has been able to reduce water usage and energy consumption, while also implementing carbon-offsetting measures. This aligns perfectly with Hurr’s own goals and values.
Do you have any advice for businesses looking for a laundry partner?
When it comes to finding a laundry partner, ask questions. The cleaning industry has hidden its true environmental impact – from the chemicals to the processes used to remove every stain.
Garment cleaning is of vital importance to move fashion from a linear model to one that embraces circularity. Find a partner that’s transparent, can prove their minimal carbon footprint and can show you their processes in real life.
Whether a strategic partnership or trial, any third-party providers within your business need to be heavily vetted and scrutinised – educate yourself, visit the locations and take a collaborative approach.
Find a partner that shares your views on what the world needs to look like and is equally as focused on reinventing the fashion industry from the ground up. Oxwash is a clear leader when it comes to combining technology and cleaning.
Oxwash: how it works
From collection and sorting to cleaning, repairs and delivery, Oxwash provides a fully integrated, end-to-end solution for brands, retailers and other businesses that want to provide rental and resale services.
1. Collection: the first stage in the process is the collection of the garments from the rental or resale partner. This can be done via a scheduled pick-up or on-demand service, depending on the partner’s requirements. Oxwash uses electric bikes and vans to collect the garments.
2. Sorting: once the garments have been collected, they are sorted according to their individual requirements. This might involve separating delicate or heavily soiled items from those that require a standard wash.
3. Cleaning: the next stage in the process is the cleaning of the garments. Oxwash uses a range of technologies and eco-friendly detergents to ensure that the garments are cleaned to the highest standard while minimising the impact on the environment.
4. Repairs: once the new facility, Big Blue, launches in Swindon in Spring 2023, if any repairs are needed, Oxwash can provide a range of repair services, such as mending tears, replacing buttons or fixing zippers.
5. Inspection: once the cleaning and repairs have been completed, the garments are inspected to ensure that they meet the partner’s requirements
6. Packaging and delivery: finally, the garments are packaged and returned to the rental or resale partner, ready to be hired by or sold to customers. Oxwash provides a range of delivery options, including same-day and next-day delivery.
To find out more about Oxwash and its sustainability initiatives please click here, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org