Who Made Your Clothes, Part 5, Jämä

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This article series by Varusteleka is part of the global Fashion Revolution Week, the idea of which is to make the sourcing, manufacture, and sales of clothes more ethical and transparent. This is perfect for all us good guys. That's why we were happier than cows on spring pasture to participate.

During this campaign week, we publish a seven-article series that introduces our partners and their fantastic gang that makes your clothes and accessories. In this fifth article, we will talk about our own brand Jämä.

Jämä - we make your clothes, too

Jämä is a Finnish word meaning scraps or leftovers. It’s also one of our house brands for clothes and gear made from recycled or surplus materials. Jämä was born in 2015 in a dark corner of our office that wasn't even illuminated by the moon on dark and stormy nights. Back then we had one sewing machine, craploads of bee.. poorly selling army surplus, and an amazing array of fantastic ideas.

Army surplus is normally very good stuff. However, there are also quite a bunch of products that for one reason (too small) or another (Soviet design) doesn't sell even though the materials are awesome.

Since we actually had people with sewing skills, we cut that useless stuff apart and sewed it back together to create something astonishingly magnificent. This is how a variety of Jämä products were born.

At first, the Jämä products were made from start to Finnish here in Konala, in the very same small and dark dungeon. Sometimes we had to cut tarps to pieces in a neighboring office when the cabin fever started going too bad. At first, the same person designed and made everything. This made it very clear that complicated stuff will steal your money and drive you insane. Simple stuff, however, is wonderful, pretty, and it works. Therefore the main thought behind the Jämä design is a very simplistic vision combined with Finnish production. Every detail in these products is carefully thought through, and the products are made to last.

In 2016, we got a very lucky strike when we got miles of coarse Finnish army wool fabric. Up until then, each Jämä product had been made by murdering some other product and butchering it to pieces. Finnish army wool fabric made it possible to produce these products in bigger quantities. For example, the three sizes of the Blanket shirt (S, XL, and 3XL) stem from the time when each of these hobo jackets was individually cut from surplus blankets. And each garment was instantly sold.


Pretty soon we started outsourcing the manufacture to our partners. Nowadays we design the products, create the patterns, and create production instructions here in Konala. At the moment, Jämä employs one person but during these years we have had over a dozen very skilled trainees. They have participated in both manufacture and design, and each trainee has taught us something new and valuable. Jämä stems from a mad combination of lucky coincidences, creative madness, and a burning desire to do things our way.


Maria made your clothes.

How long have you worked at Varusteleka

I came here as a trainee through my school about six years ago. From there I went to work at the warehouse for about a year. In 2015, I worked as a substitute at our own production when they were just starting to create the Jämä brand. I took that under my wing and stayed there permanently.

What do you do there?

I design, create the patterns, and instruct on how to make the final products. The product category manager tells me what kind of products we need and together we think how they should look and what kind of details they should have. After this, I find suitable materials, create the patterns, and instruct our partners on how to make them. In addition to this, I modify clothes for our customers. Shorten the pants, put in velcro, etc.

How did you get into this business?

This might sound like a cliche, but I have always wanted to be in the clothing business. First I wanted to be a designer, then I wanted to create the patterns, now I do a little bit of both!

How do you like your job?

I enjoy the challenges of creating the patterns, and it is always nice to see the pattern turn into a 3D object. The best thing is that even though the end product is a sum of many people’s work, the designer’s vision is always there.

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