Anniina Nurmi is a specialist in the field of sustainable fashion. She’s the founder of Vihreät Vaatteet (engl. Green Clothes) website, which is a database for sustainable clothes (in Finnish). During the years 2010–2015 she ran a sustainable clothing label Nurmi. This spring she wrote Vihreät vaatteet guidebook about sustainable fashion (in Finnish).
You think that the fashion industry’s basic idea, producing as much as possible as cheap as possible, is wrong and it would need to change. How we can start changing it?
We should learn to appreciate clothes again, it’s the key. We shouldn’t treat clothes just as disposable commodities.
The first step for us consumers would be to question if we need to buy so much at all. Rather invest in quality than quantity. And clothing brands should offer more. Develop new business models that are not based only on the idea of selling more with lower prices and offer products that are better quality and long lasting.
Do you think people are more conscious nowadays than before?
Yes absolutely. If you think about what has happened in past ten years, people know and understand much better all the problems within the fashion industry. But still it's not seen in our consumption choices. That is why making sustainable choices should be made much easier for the consumer. So that you shouldn’t need to spend so much time finding out what is sustainable, good quality or really a better option.
What kind of consumer are you? Where do you buy your clothes?
I try to consume as little as possible, but of course everyone needs clothes. I buy quite a lot from flea markets, but nowadays it takes quite a lot of time to find good quality items from flea markets as most of the clothes sold in them are of poor quality.
If I buy new clothes, I choose products that fit my style and I would wear for a long time. Even though I sometimes wonder should I have more colors in my wardrobe, I know by now that the most used items are black, gray or black and white. Those work best for me. I buy quality clothes from brands which I can support and which work in a sustainable and transparent manner.
When I was running my own Nurmi clothing brand, I mostly wore clothes from my own brand mixed with flea market findings. I do have many of those still in active use and those I can use still for many years to come.
What are your favourite brands? Why?
From Finnish brands my favourite is Poola Kataryna. Designer Paula is my friend, and we previously shared a workroom. I got to see closely what she does and where her clothes come from. Paula also thinks a lot about sustainability questions. Another favourite is Kowtow from New Zealand. They have sustainable and transparent production, and I like the simple forms of their clothes. Third I’d say Patagonia. They are pioneers in transparent and sustainable production and I appreciate their work a lot.
Do you ever make bad purchases?
Yes, sometimes. I'm that kind of a consumer who ponders a purchase for a really long time. I can search for the perfect item even for years before I decide to buy. I guess that's my way to avoid bad purchases. Previously when I bought more clothes from flea markets, I bought so called project clothes that would have been perfect after small changes. Often those clothes remained unfixed, so now I try to choose the items I buy more carefully even when buying from flea markets.
You previously had your own clothing brand Nurmi. What’s its future?
It’s going to stay on a break for now. I didn’t want to say that I would end it for good, because you never know. We will see if I get a spark to start it again some day, but now I want to concentrate on sharing my thoughts about sustainable style and helping other companies to move towards sustainability.
Interview: Vilma Heimonen
Photos: Vihreät vaatteet
Anniina Nurmi’s Vihreät vaatteet guidebook (in finnish) is available at TRE concept store. Guidebook is free of charge. Guidebook takes you to the world of sustainable fashion.