Clothing rental shop Vaatepuu helps designers as well as consumers: “Shared use reveals whether an item of clothing has been designed to last”
Vaatepuu has grown from a clothing rental shop to a provider of services in sustainable clothing. Soile-Maria Linnemäki, the founder of the company, is expanding Vaatepuu online.
“In 2013, when I was expecting my middle child, I wanted to make room in my wardrobe for the things we needed for the new addition to our family. I was shocked to find so many clothes that I had not used for a long time.
Then I discovered the Vaatelainaamo clothing rental store founded by Liisa Jokinen and Hertta Päivärinta and fell in love with it. Shared use of clothing revolutionised my thinking about owning clothes as well as other things. You do not need to own everything that is beautiful, such as clothes. When Vaatelainaamo was closed down, I decided during my maternity leave to set up a similar brick-and-mortar store in Järvenpää, my home town, even though I had no experience of the textile sector. Over the years, I have developed the concept further.
Now I have two shops of my own, in Järvenpää and Helsinki, and three franchised stores operating in different parts of Finland. In addition to the clothes library, our stores also offer other sustainable clothing services, such as clothes recycling, and the repair and alteration services of our partner Remake EkoDesign. We also sell new sustainable products.
I would never give up the physical shop. When we meet clients face-to-face, we can help them and provide guidance on clothing care and repairs and on how to build their own sustainable wardrobe. It is an important part of the change towards a more sustainable textile industry.
Our operation has been tested during the Covid-19 pandemic as people have stayed in their home offices and it has not been important to rent clothes. The other services have helped us survive. We have sold a huge number of sustainably manufactured Finnish leggings to people working in their home offices.
Next, we will expand our operation online. This will enable us to reach not only responsible consumers and pioneers, but also the masses, who will be able to click and rent an item of clothing instead of buying it online. Online, we will be able to more easily gather information and experiences from consumers.
We already participate in the designing of clothes and in different research projects by sharing information on shared use of garments and user experiences. Shared use definitely tests the durability of an item of clothing! This information is important for designers so they can design clothes that last. Sustainable decisions must be made at all stages, from the design desk to the wardrobe.”