Five from Finland
These online services, stores and brands are worth a second look for their efforts to promote second-hand fashion.Julia Bushueva
If the idea of giving clothes a second life fits you well, try this Finnish quintet on for size.
Increasing awareness of the environmental burden associated with the global fashion industry is leading to an uptick in popularity for sustainable clothing brands and second-hand shopping. This is particularly true for Finland. The culture of recycling and reuse has long been encouraged here and, in recent years, picked up by the clothing conscious.
Here are five ideas for those taking a more responsible approach to their wardrobes.
Seeking to change the way people consume clothes, Zadaa is a marketplace app for second-hand fashion which uses matching algorithms to connect people with similar build and style and create a personalised stream of clothing for each user. All the items can be purchased directly through the app, which ensures a risk-free experience for both the seller and the buyer.
“Zadaa is a mobile application that helps people to sell and buy well-fitting, pre-loved clothing,” explained co-founder and CEO Iiro Kormi. “We wanted to create a service that makes recycling clothing so easy that even we would do it more actively.”
Boosted by a few successful funding rounds, Zadaa currently operates in Finland, Denmark and Germany, bringing together over half a million eco-conscious fashion lovers.
Launched in 2015 with just around 500 items in its selection, Emmy has grown into a leading Nordic online marketplace for pre-owned premium clothing, with about 80 000 products in stock. Housed in Emmy’s headquarters in Lohja, all the products are hand-inspected and authenticity-checked before they are made available for purchase online.
One of Emmy’s ultimate goals is to steer consumers’ choices towards high-quality products that are made to last and retain their resale value. This is reflected in the collections stocked by the company’s partners, such as Vimma, Papu or Reima. The resale market created by Emmy becomes a way for brands to prove their commitment to durability and sustainability.
“We focus on high quality and want to partner with sustainably and ethically aware companies,” co-founder Hanna Autiotold us in 2019. “In our four years of existence, we’ve really seen that the industry is taking steps in a better direction, with brands becoming increasingly interested in the resale value of their products and consumers considering it as part of their purchase decision.”
Established in 2013 as We Started This (WST), Vestis is an Espoo-based shop for high-quality pre-owned clothing and an online shop shipping items to all parts of the world. Initially met with some eye rolls and scepticism, the concept has aroused customers’ excitement and kept the team busy with daily collection updates.
Vestis is particularly scrupulous about the selection process: fast-fashion brands are shown the red light, while timeless designs and quality materials are prioritised. Each piece of clothing is curated by the company.
“People still want to update their wardrobes, but they’re looking for ways to do it more sustainably,” noted co-founder SaraNyyssölä. “We provide them not only with ‘new’ clothes, but also a place where to recycle the ones they no longer use.”
While the above-mentioned businesses are focusing solely on second-hand fashion, Alpa is a vibrant knitwear brand that has found its niche in turning silky-soft Peruvian alpaca wool into timeless Nordic designs. Alpa takes pride in producing sweaters and accessories for both women and men that can stand the test of time without the material wearing out or the shape distorting.
As proof of its commitment to sustainability and the concept of “accessible quality”, the brand has launched a unique service to buy back used Alpa products from its customers and sells them forward as second-hand items. Although the second-hand finds are not very cheap, the storage space empties very quickly after they have been posted online.
“That’s our way to challenge other brands,” pointed out CMO Lauri Hilliaho. “We want to be able to promise that our products last by showing we’re willing to take them back. If it wasn’t good stuff, of course we wouldn’t do it, but we honestly believe it is.”
Raising awareness about the importance of making more sustainable consumption choices since 2015, Rekki is a popular online platform for selling and buying pre-owned clothes from valued brands effortlessly and safely. The selection is replenished three times a week to ensure great finds for all second-hand fashion enthusiasts.
Currently operating in Finland and the Baltic region and eyeing wider markets, the company raised around 254 000 euros in crowdfunding from over 200 investors last year, despite the challenges brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.
“Our goal is to be Europe’s leading second-hand fashion online store,” stated CEO and founder Bertta Häkkinen. “Now we are embarking on a path of growth and internalisation.”
According to Häkkinen, the plan for international advances includes having retail points in five countries and customers in over 10 EU countries by 2022.