Colourful, imaginative, durable, high-quality and unisex, mixed with ethical and ecological. Aarrekid is not joking around when it comes to fulfilling its brand promises: founded in 2011, the company now has its own production facilities in Portugal, ensuring that environmental and social aspects are considered and monitored and meet its high standards.
“As the interest in Finnish children’s clothing brands has been growing in the past few years, it’s definitely something that distinguishes us,” says one of the owners, Laura Keski-Vähälä.
Aarrekid began its operations with the family-run business Black Moda of the Keski-Vähäläs as its manufacturer in Portugal. In 2016, the siblings took over the entire ownership of the brand (Aarrekid/Pumpkin Design Oy).
Laura Keski-Vähälä notes that it just made sense. The two companies shared the same values: they wanted to offer families fun, story-filled children’s clothes that stand out from the masses due to their ecological and ethical supply chain. The prints can be a source of inspiration for parents trying to come up with one more bedtime story, and the durable clothes are designed to suit all genders to make sure they can be passed from one sibling to another, and then on to cousins and the like.
Shifting focus to all ages
As is the case with many other children’s clothing brands, Aarrekid’s designs have appealed to adults, too. Now, the company has a selection for adults to wear as well and, come next year, it will drop the word ‘kid’ from its name to reflect its broadening scope.
The focus will remain on clothes.
“That’s what we can do, and that’s what we’re best at,” Keski-Vähälä notes.
‘We’ refers to herself as the designer of Aarrekid, her sister Riikka Keski-Vähälä de Oliveira running the factory Black Moda Portugal Lda and their brother Marko Keski-Vähälä, who deals with marketing and sales in Finland. Black Moda Portugal is a subcontractor for many other Finnish brands, and it employs over 60 seamstresses on top of other subcontractors. At the Aarrekid office in Pirkkala, Laura Keski-Vähälä is assisted by two other team members.
As the focus is shifting from solely children’s clothing to clothing for all ages, the designs are also taking a more minimalistic turn. But the kids’ clothes will still have a colourful pattern on them, Keski-Vähälä assures.
Enabling sustainable choices for everyone
Despite its international setting, Aarrekid is just now taking its first serious steps in global fashion markets. Keski-Vähälä tells that currently the plan is to expand the online shop to serve conscious consumers abroad.
There are resellers scattered around Europe and some in Asia, too, depending on the collection and season. Keski-Vähälä believes that the most promising bases lie in Central Europe and the Nordics, where locals tend to be increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the textile industry and thus willing to invest in ethical fashion.
Time will tell where the road takes Aarre. Keski-Vähälä emphasises that the business is agile and flexible, so it can adapt to changing circumstances and customer demand. One thing seems to be for sure: Finnish brands are of growing interest both at home and elsewhere, and many consumers want to buy high-quality items that retain their value for second-hand sales.
“Little by little, people seem to be thinking more and more about what they buy and where from,” Keski-Vähälä contemplates. “These days, many read the small print: they want to know not just the brand name but who owns it, too.”
Particularly in children’s wear, resale value is a factor, as kids outgrow their clothes sometimes in a matter of months. Cheap stuff doesn’t tend to last in the playground, but quality costs. Aarrekid is careful to set prices so that its products are accessible and affordable.
“It’s really important to us that when someone is pondering over buying a new dress, the price doesn’t stop them from buying one from us,” Keski-Vähälä explains. “We want to enable as many people as possible to make as sustainable choices as possible.”