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One poncho to unwind us all

Emmi Lonka is the creative mastermind of Jouten.Jouten

Finnish Jouten towel ponchos are practicality, sustainability and comfort sewn into the one outfit. The most important ingredient is a laid-back, feel-good mood.

Jouten delivers exactly what it says on the tin. In Finnish, to be jouten means to do absolutely nothing: to kick back, to relax, to lounge around. As per usual, no direct translation exists, but deem being jouten the Finnish version of the trendy Danish hygge and you’re pretty much on it.

Jouten towel ponchos never stretch, pull or chafe.

“The whole idea is that the poncho is so comfortable people can just pull it on and not have a worry in the world,” Emmi Lonka, the creative mastermind of the product, explains.

A very Finnish moment of jouten could be spent at the summer cottage terrace on a summer evening, just having rinsed off the sweat from the sauna in the refreshing lake. Birds singing, a cold beverage in hand, not a sign of mosquitos anywhere… It’s time to step down from your pedestal, hygge, there are others in the queue.

A piece of Finland for busy bees

The idea occurred to Lonka in 2015. She, being into watersports and having travelled a lot, had seen surfers wear a similar piece of clothing on public beaches to get in and out of their wetsuits without exposing too much skin. Her idea was to make the poncho to look nice and be as comfortable, as possible as well as produce them from sustainable materials.

“I figured I had nothing to lose. I already had the machinery and the skills, and all I needed was something to do with them.”

Jouten ponchos have been shipped all the way to Australia and Japan. Image: Jouten

The first collection was very well received. Most of the over 100 ponchos Lonka has made so far have been sold in Finland, but some foreigners have been really excited about the product, too. Jouten ponchos have been shipped all the way to Australia and Japan.

One reason for the interest abroad might lie in finding a piece of Finland underneath each poncho. The image of a nightless night at a summer cottage wearing a soft and colourful towel takes its wearer, at least mentally, to the lakeside of Finland – even from a living room in the neon-lit bustle of Tokyo.

Despite this, Lonka points out that Jouten isn’t just a thing for meditation and mindfulness. It can also be used before and after doing extreme sports – or absolutely anything else.

“If you want to meditate wearing the poncho, by all means go for it,” she notes. “I hope people use it for what suits them best.”

Get it on, Kanye

Lonka collects her materials from recycling centres and through donations. For her, using good quality second-hand materials is one of the essentials of Jouten. Many customers find it important too, and not only for environmental reasons, but for the fact that this makes every Jouten piece unique.

In the future, Lonka might broaden the product range to beach backpacks or hats. There is plenty of playroom with the poncho itself as well: she has already received requests from people hoping she could expand to hoodies.

A second-hand towel hoodie handmade in Finland certainly sounds like something that could get trending on the streets in places like Japan and South Korea.

“It could become a thing of fashion,” Lonka admits. “Kanye West could probably wear one.”

Although West is yet to place his order, Lonka is in the process of designing the coming collection. By the time the pieces will have been shipped to their new owners, jouten might have taken over the limelight from hygge for good.

The soft and colourful towel takes its wearer, at least mentally, to the lakeside of Finland. Image: Jouten
By: Anne Salomäki