On those rare occasions her husband, Brad, folds the laundry, Joanne Ross-MacLeod can't keep herself from refolding it. She recently undid a pair of leggings he had bunched up into a small square. She folded one leg onto the other, brought the bottom up past the knees, then the knees up to the waist, in the manner she had learned 20 years ago folding jeans at the Gap.
The 39-year-old fabric-product developer didn't tell her husband. But he's used to it. Folding is a subject on which the Kenosha, Wisc., couple agree to disagree. "I need therapy," Mrs. Ross-MacLeod says.
She isn't the only one. The ranks of obsessive folders have swelled in recent years as a generation of Americans has done stints as clothing-store clerks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual nonsupervisory employment in clothing and clothing-accessory stores grew to nearly 1.3 million workers in 2007, up nearly 20% from 1990. Gap Inc. says it has trained "hundreds of thousands" of Gap store employees in the art of folding since the late 1980s.
Along the way, legions of retail grads have spent countless hours neatly folding T-shirts and jeans and stacking them on tables and shelves. Now, their peculiar idea of perfection is straining marriages and leading to bizarre behavior ranging from buying clothes based on an item's foldability to straightening up sloppy displays while shopping.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Freeborn, I'm Looking At You
Obsessive clothes folders via the Wall Street Journal