Upscale approach to dry cleaning in the UAE
April 6, 2014 Updated: April 6, 2014 13:43:00
Alicia Al Mutawa recalls with anguish the day four years ago when her Dh16,000 Chanel trousers were destroyed by a dry cleaner. She cried at the sight of the beautiful cream hue stained black, their silky texture gone. But it was also the incentive she needed to start the first couture cleaner in the UAE. “I still have those pants, by the way”, she says. “One day I’m going to display them on the wall, to show everyone – this is why we started.” The reason Mrs Al Mutawa’s trousers were stained black was that the petrochemical perchloroethylene (perc) used in the washing process had run, and it wasn’t the first time this had happened. “I would call and complain, but all they would say is ‘we’ll pay you three times what you have paid’. I would say ‘hello, this garment cost much more than that.’ I chatted to others and realised they’d had the same problem. “Some people would send their Chanel garments all the way to Paris for dry cleaning, because nobody wants an expensive piece to get ruined. I started to think this could be a business.” Mrs Al Mutawa spent the next three years researching the technology needed and whether it was possible to use other cleaning products less harmful to clothes, and to the environment. She discovered Green Earth, a technology never before used in the UAE which replaces perc with liquid silicone. After two months of intensive training for her 11 staff, Alessia Couture opened for business last September. Although qualified with a degree in finance and accounting and a master’s in communications, Mrs Al Mutawa admits at first she knew nothing about dry cleaning. “I always thought it meant without any chemicals or anything, just “clean and dry”. I brought over a couple of American experts and told them to teach me everything they knew, from A to Z. We didn’t want to be just another dry cleaning company. We are at the highest end —...
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