Finns are certified sports nuts, and some might say we have the strangest hobbies in the world, what with all the ice swimming, wife carrying, swamp soccer and so forth that goes on here. Weird sports aside, Finns have come to prominence in many traditional sports and lately also in manufacturing active wear.
Here are five Finnish brands that are making a move on the global scene for sports clothing.
With the mission of bringing affordable and breathable clothing to the general public, Icepeak was founded in 1996 by one of the biggest clothing manufacturers in the Nordics: Luhta Sportswear Company (previously known as L-Fashion Group).
Since Icepeak was born, the brand has been making itself known all over the world for its easy-to-care-for products for different outdoor environments, including jackets and trousers suitable for hiking and skiing and light apparel offerings such as T-shirts, polos and shorts.
Each of these incorporates some of the numerous different technologies championed by Icepeak, ranging from basic waterproofing to anti-bacterial and moisture transfer properties, UPF, stretchability and thermal material.
“Active and innovative product development is one of our main areas of expertise,” said CEO Vesa Luhtanen. “We want to make sure that we have up-to-date items for all our target groups in all market areas.”
Named after the highest fell in Finland, outdoor sports equipment company Halti caters to the needs of active people and sports enthusiasts who value quality, functionality and style. Constantly on the look for new growth, the company expanded to the French market in 2016.
Now, Halti is about to reach a new height in sustainability by becoming fully PFC-free in the summer of 2020. Used in the production of durable water resistance treatment in garments, perfluorochemicals (PFCs) have become a big global concern because they don’t break down in the environment.
“Becoming totally PFC-free has not been an easy process”, highlighted head of operations Laura Roman. “We need our waterproof clothing to perform as before. We are known for our high-quality outdoor products, so we can’t afford to risk it. But at the same time, we have ambitious goals in terms of sustainability: we want the future generations to enjoy a clean environment as we have, and we want to do our part properly and professionally.”
Founded in 2009 after extensive university research showed how compression products boost performance, ZeroPoint has always focused on three major aspects: quality, design and sustainability. The products are tested and developed with the help of professional athletes such as snowboarder Eero Ettala.
Being ecologically sound is highlighted by ZeroPoint’s use of recycled material.
“We use recycled materials as much as possible,” noted CFO Jaakko Hintikka. “We only use other materials to reinforce the features that are needed for optimal compression, but our goal is to eventually be 100 per cent recycled.”
With its cutting-edge technology, Kuopio-based Myontec has created smart sports shorts that provide the user with important real-time information about their muscles during and after exercise. The shorts, which bare the name Mbody, have received recognition and awards in Finland and abroad.
“While a heart rate monitor measures cardiovascular function as a sort of fuel pump, Mbody measures muscle performance, i.e. the functioning of the body’s ‘engine’,” founder Pekka Tolvanen described the essence of Mbody.
As the textile industry has become one of the most polluting industries globally, the sisters behind Garmendo have decided to create an online marketplace for sustainable, conscious and good-looking activewear.
Garmendo is quite picky when it comes to the brands it chooses to sell but welcomes both relatively small and big brands as long as their production processes are ethical and sustainable from start to finish.
“Our business model is to sell ecological and ethical products, and this includes the treatment of workers at factories, as well as packaging and shipping,” outlined co-founder Minna Eerikäinen. “That way, our values are present all the way from choosing materials to manufacturing and the customer’s doorstep.”
Originally published in August 2019