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Hanoians willing to spend big on professional wardrobe organizers

By Quynh Nguyen   May 24, 2022 | 12:00 am PT
Huyen Trang, a shopaholic, realized she needed to do something about her wardrobe, which was stuffed with untidy piles of clothes and full up.

But then it would take the 32-year-old in Thanh Xuan District at least a few days to reorganize the mess.

The clothes had piled up in the closet and under the bed and some even had to be sent to her mother's house due to her shopping and hoarding habits.

A professional organizer helps fold and rearrange clothes for a client in Hanoi in July 2021. Photo courtesy of House to Home

A professional organizer helps fold and rearrange clothes for a client in Hanoi in July 2021. Photo courtesy of House to Home

Friends recommended that she hire a professional closet organizing service in April, when she was planning to move into a new house.

"They told me I had to hire a minimum of two workers for two hours, and the fee ranged from VND250,000-400,000 (US$10-17.30) per hour, depending on the clutter level of the wardrobe," she says.

It took the two workers four hours to complete the job. Her clothes, which previously took up three cabinets, were been sorted by color and neatly arranged to fit in one cabinet.

It cost her VND2 million.

Though closet organizing services in Hanoi are often provided by house and industrial cleaning and relocation companies, Trang said the place her friends referred specializes in this and "so the price is lower."

"I think it is a worthwhile investment since it would take me forever to get it done.

"Besides improving the appearance and making the wardrobe more organized, it also helped me reduce shopping because everything I need to wear is displayed in front of me."

She no longer spends hours looking for clothes and is not afraid to invite friends over due to fear of her messy room.

Since this service is still relatively new in Vietnam, Thuy Vy of Bac Tu Liem District admits she was skeptical when she first hired professional organizers since few people knew about this service and the price was quite high.

The 27-year-old says the work is not easy after witnessing the two organizers planning and working nonstop for three hours. Her clothes were organized based on material, function, color, and so on.

"Many people believe paying VND1.5 million to hire someone to fold clothes is a luxury only for the wealthy. However, if they help me eliminate the clutter and make the closet tidier, I think it is a worthy investment since I don’t have to rummage through piles of clothes every time.

"It is not too expensive and I don’t mind hiring them once or twice a year to come over and rearrange my clothes."

The professional wardrobe organizing service is said to have originated in the U.S. in the 1980s, developed in Japan and now become a very popular profession in China.

Housework, once considered a part-time job, became popular in 2021 in China. The demand for cleaning professionals increased by 400 percent during the pandemic as people spent more time at home and shopped online, leaving closets with no space.

According to data from China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, more than 40 percent of professional closet organizers earn 100,000 yuan (over $14,700) a year and the industry is expanding rapidly.

Bian Lichun, founder of Liucundao, a school in China that teaches the art of home-organizing for the wealthy, says there are now over 3,000 cleaning professionals.

According to China Central Television, the industry was worth around 100 billion yuan ($14.9 billion) in 2020.

It first came to Vietnam in 2019 to meet the needs of foreigners living here.

Hien (white shirt) during a trip to a client’s house in Hanoi in July 2021. Photo courtesy of House to Home

Hien (white shirt) during a trip to a client’s house in Hanoi in July 2021. Photo courtesy of House to Home

"The closet organizing business will become increasingly popular as demand and people's incomes rise" Cao Thi Le Hien, 36, founder of a wardrobe organizing service in Hanoi, says.

Hien's company, whose staff did professional Chinese and Japanese courses, saw modest business in the last two years due to social distancing restrictions and the spread of Covid.

But it has risen dramatically in recent months.

Her company has served hundreds of customers in the first four months of this year, totaling over 2,000 hours of work.

She said the majority of her customers are married women between the ages of 25 and 40 who have a good income, a lot of clothes and a demanding job.

The peak season is when the weather changes and people need to switch clothes or relocate.

Hien’s weekends are fully booked until the end of May.

Professional organizers spend about four hours on average for a client though for celebrity clients, who have lots of clothes and accessories, it could take 3-4 days.

The main issue, Hien says, is that people shop a lot but don't have time to sort, organize or manage their items.

As a result, clothes could be bought but not used for a few months or even years.

"There are customers who have hundreds of pairs of black leggings in the same style and dresses with tags still intact," Hien says.

Clothes organized by Hien and her team. Photo courtesy of House to Home

Clothes organized by Hien and her team. Photo courtesy of House to Home

Her staff not only make a customer's wardrobe more organized, but also show them how to arrange things in a systematic and simple manner.

The difficulties people like Hien face are that the profession is new and expensive.

Many customers have a need for her service, but back out when they learn the cost, she says.

"In the coming months, we will offer incentives to promote our service."

According to Huyen Trang, hiring someone to arrange clothes is too expensive if done on a regular basis but one can afford to do it twice a year.

"If the price is lower and there are discounts, I will use this service more frequently."

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