During Berlin Fashion Week in January I met Anniina Nurmi, instantly falling in love with her designs. This Finnish eco style visionaire lives and breathes sustainable fashion. Without further ado, please meet Anniina.
Would you be so kind and introduce yourself.
I’m Anniina, a Finnish designer dedicated to sustainable fashion and the founder of clothing label Nurmi.
Creating your own fashion label – how did you come up with your vision for Nurmi?
It was already during my fashion design studies when I started to question my career choice: I wanted to be as sustainable as possible in my private life so how could I justify my career in fashion, a business that is anything but sustainable? Soon after that I read a book about long-lasting and sustainable industrial design and realised that perhaps style and sustainability could be combined. I started to search for information on sustainable fashion, making this the subject of my university thesis in year 2007. After graduation I started working as a sportswear designer for a big Finnish company. During that time my passion for sustainability grew and grew. In spring 2008, I had already gained quite a lot of information about this field and I thought perhaps this info could be useful to others as well. This is how the blog Vihreät Vaatteet (in english: Green Clothes) came to life. Soon after that I launched an online store selling eco clothes from Germany, UK, Sweden and Finland. I wanted to give Finnish consumers sustainable yet stylish alternatives to choose from. Nowadays the webshop is run by another company but this was the first step towards me becoming an entrepreneur. It was in 2009 that I started to think, “ok, I write about eco labels in my blog and I sell other brands’ clothes in my webshop – but as I am a designer myself, why wouldn’t I create a sustainable clothing label of my own?” And so the story of Nurmi began.
How long did it take from the idea to the first collection?
In the summer of 2009 I started to develop the Nurmi brand and the first pieces to be included in the first Nurmi collection, which was launched in spring 2010. So it took around a year from the idea to the first collection, which consisted of just a few dresses and accessories for women. It was not until spring 2011 when I launched a fuller collection with a bigger variety of garments.
Were there and are there any obstacles you have to overcome?
I do have to say that there has been and still is quite many obstacles we have to overcome. To run a fashion company isn’t the easiest task and to run a sustainable clothing company, well, it’s not easy at all. I think the most challenging thing is that as we want to be totally transparent we need to know every step of the production chain. We work hours and hours to find materials which are not only ecological and ethical but also long-lasting and of high quality, as well as production possibilities with companies that share our values. Even though nowadays sustainable options are easier to find, it’s still quite a task to locate the ones that fulfill our criteria. Also, the financial part is challenging as we are a small company and we need to finance our growth. We have managed on our own but at the moment we are looking for partners to support the brand financially to allow us to grow even further.
What inspires you?
Running a sustainable clothing label can be tricky – but every time I receive positive feedback from a customer it inspires me to take Nurmi to the next level!
What are your plans for the label? Are there any secret projects you want to reveal?
We want to develop the label even further and spread the word about sustainable (and stylish!) clothes to even bigger audience. The new Nurmi #7 / FW14 collection will soon be in stores including new exciting material for Nurmi jeans: 100% recycled denim made entirely out of cutting waste from jeans factories and yarn waste from spinning mills.
Seven things you do not want to live without.
Book: Design & Sustainability by Kate Fletcher (the best book about sustainable fashion)
Magazine: A Finnish sustainable lifestyle magazine Huili (interesting articles with stylish outlook)
Clothing: Nurmi’s organic cotton Fanni dress (I would wear it everyday if I could)
Shoes: Ethletic fair trade sneakers (stylish, comfy & fair)
Food: Blackcurrants from our garden (super local and super good)
Device: MacBook Pro laptop (I hate to admit but I couldn’t live without it!)
People: Friends and family (what else?)
All pictures: Nurmi, photographers Antti Sepponen & Antti Ahtiluoto
Please note: Currently you will find a few non-animal-friendly items in the Nurmi webshop. Once sold out, these will not be replaced.