My name is Minna Kaartinen. I run Vietto, my eco fashion label, in the capital of Finland, Helsinki. My aim is to create innovative, artistic, timeless and fresh fashion out of ecological materials.
I started my own eco fashion label to satisfy my need to create something new. I’ve been making things with my hands basically all my life: I started making clothing for myself at very young age, and I was very into arts and crafts as a teenager. Fashion has always been an essential part of me, but so has an awareness of the state of our environment. It was more than natural to choose ecological materials as a starting point for my creative work.
I pretty much do everything by myself, from sketching and pattern making, to sewing, knitting or whatever technique I’ve chosen to use. My concepts are material-based, but I’ve been very keen to keep the design the most significant part of my creations. I kind of like that the range of material I’m able to use is restricted – I think it really wakes up my creativity. I have to invent something new to make another exciting piece of clothing out of black jersey knit.
As a designer, I don’t want to create new collections every six months; I don’t find that really sustainable. My work is more like a continuous process. I keep working on my designs and develop them from one season to the next.
My garments are made in very small series or are completely one of a kind, since I use upcycled and leftover fabrics. There are some characteristic features in my work, like convertibility. I really love to make garments that can be worn in many different ways. I also like to add artistic touches to my designs, like hand-painted details. It truly makes the pieces unique.
I find strange combinations very intriguing. For example, I love to combine very traditional crafting techniques with modern pieces of clothing. While I’m excited about unconventional forms, I always keep my design usable.
One of my favorite designs is the chunky fringe scarf. I had bought few skeins of leftover cotton tricot yarn. The yarn is very popular material for rag rugs here in Finland, but I was thinking of creating something wearable, maybe some kind of huge cardigan or poncho. I started knitting the yarn with my over-sized knitting needles and accidentally created huge triangle scarf with long ties. I just added the fringes. I’ve been wearing my fringe scarf for many years now. Only during the hottest summer days and coldest winter nights will you find it on the coat rack.
The fashion business is highly competitive. It can be quite difficult for a small operator like me to find a place in a market dominated by huge industrial corporations making cheap products. However, I believe that idea of sustainable consumerism creates a great opportunity for me to survive in this tough business. People’s consciousness of their choices is rising, and I offer them a greener alternative.
I had been selling my clothing in a few little shops here in Finland before I found Etsy. It was magical moment when I realized that I’d be able to show my design to a much larger audience without investing a terrible lot of money. That is truly a great thing for a designer from a small country like Finland.
All photographs by Jaana Björklund.