CHICAGO — If you thought laundry just meant cleaning clothes, think again. Wash-and-dry is magical in Chicago and musical in Tennessee. The uber-hip bar scene is drinking it up. And from the streets of Manhattan to the peaks of Montana, it’s making quite a fashion statement.

The Laundromat is being embraced like never before. Not just by those needing to wash, but also savvy marketers looking to make a splash. This once unassuming neighborhood institution finds itself being branded in surprising ways.

TAKING THE MAIN STAGE

One industry manufacturer brought the Laundromat to the main stage. Last June’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival featured The LaundROO Lounge and Vintage Clothing Swap Powered by LG.

Concertgoers were encouraged to get down and dirty without worrying about cleaning up the mess. A pop-up laundry on-site boasted a lineup of 50 commercial LG washers and dryers manned by staffers to tackle hundreds of loads dropped off and professionally processed free of charge.

In addition to the complimentary wash-dry-fold, the LaundRoo tent offered music lovers a respite from the sun to unwind, recharge and stroll the clothing swap racks.

Staged in Manchester, Tennessee, the festival attracted more than 65,000 fans, soaking in the warm weather and cool vibes of live rock, bluegrass, country and alternative music performances.

LG says that after the four-day event wound down, the unused clothes, lounge furniture and laundry room products were donated to the United Way in Clarksville, where the manufacturer was gearing up for the opening of an assembly facility.

When clothier American Eagle Outfitters celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017, it went all out with an elaborate remodel of its Union Square location in the heart of New York City. The futuristic AE Studio showcases jeans and other distinctive clothing lines in an environment that encourages engagement between the retailer and its customers.

Helping to build that connection is a fully operational laundry wall containing a row of commercial multi-load stack washer-dryers ready for use.

AE says it designed the in-store laundry to give students a free place to wash, study and hang with friends. The adjacent studio bar and seating area overlook Union Square’s hustle and bustle, providing a perfect vantage point to pass the time while running a load of denim and skivvies on the house.

In addition to the laundry corner, the apparel store features dressing rooms equipped with concierge iPads, as well as collaboration space to introduce collections from emerging designers.

IN NAME ONLY

Washers and dryers inside a tony Manhattan retailer is one way to distinguish your image. So how about a printing company called The Coin Laundry that is neither a Laundromat nor trades in coin laundry-related items?

Jennifer Ford’s screen printing business bears our industry name and meticulously folds cotton fabric as well as the best store attendant, but don’t confuse her with any of Montana’s real coin-ops.

Ford pursued a passion for design a decade ago after her theatrical career in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was impacted by an economic slowdown. It was there that a weathered sign above a coin-op caught her eye and became the inspiration for a handmade brand of personalized towels, totes and tees offered up on an online store.

While her collection might not be laundry-centric, there’s plenty of whimsical selections, including an “I Believe I Can Pie” kitchen towel and “Call Your Mother” tote bag.

The Coin Laundry’s presence on the web does invite an occasional solicitation for the latest and greatest energy-saving equipment from salesmen who are under the impression she washes and irons rather than prints and presses.

She takes the calls in stride. Other inquiries — those from residents seeking laundering tips — do, however, leave her at a loss for words.

“I get e-mails asking me how to get stains out,” Ford says. “I’m not a Laundromat, I really don’t know. I feel bad, but I can’t help them.”

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.