Trashion hasn’t always been Outi Pyys passion. In fact, as a child, this quick-witted woman has been a shy, mathematically orientated girl who wanted to be a pilot.
It’s a foggy, damp day in Helsinki. The bright lights of Remake EkoDesign atelier shine on the grey street. It looks like any minute now the dark sky will pour rain on the people strolling back and forth Annankatu.
However, the chilly weather, the greyness outside, is forgotten as soon as Outi Pyy opens the door of the atelier and marches in. The recycle fashion designer, seamstress, sustainable fashion blogger and the author of Trashion looks stunning. A woman with style, a dashing posture and rationalised opinions.
Outi is known for her creativity, but what you can’t see immediately outward is the organised, excel-orientated person or as she refers “the tinfoil hat of the company”. But we’ll get to that later.
She guides me upstairs, to a loft full of unique clothes, a table and two chairs, as her friend and business partner Paula Malleus stays downstairs and works with their mutual collection. Tailor-made costumes for a band – that’s all Outi reveals for now.
Trashion. Modifying any recycled material in a way that in the end it looks like high fashion – that’s the thing Outi knows best and the thing she is famous for. Her recycle fashion pieces have been seen on various occasions, galas and television.
But trashion hasn’t always been Outis passion. In fact, it took quite many years and coincidences to be in this position she is now.
As a 5-year-old girl, Outi was determined to become a pilot. Nothing less, but the first female captain of Finnair. The movie Top Gun had a huge influence on her, she loved, and still loves, aeroplanes and the atmosphere of airports. Outi tells that she’s afraid of heights, but for some reason, in an aeroplane, she is extremely calm.
But when she was 10, she got eyeglasses and in the 80’s it meant she had to give up on her dream.
“I was 14 when I was told at school, to think what I’m good at and make my profession out of it”, Outi explains with an excited tone and hand moves, “In my early twenties, when I was studying to be a seamstress, I realized that I’m excellent in analyzing what makes a certain catwalk look so great. Analysing and breaking down the design and building it back up again using unconventional materials. That’s my gift.“
Besides modifying flea market clothes into fashion looks, making analysis of people and situations is something Outi has done all her life. She wants to keep her world in order.
Surprisingly she describes her childhood-self as a quiet bookworm, a sci-fi fan, who drew a lot, loved Legos and was mathematically very gifted. A bit geeky girl, who no one paid attention to. She was never bullied at school, but neither she was listened. And that was something she wanted to change.
“The geeky girl thought, how to get those people listen to me.”
According to Outi, her interest in clothes and fashion began when she started to analyse the styles of those kids, who seemed to appeal other kids. Should I wear certain clothes, she asked herself and began to analyse how the community around her worked, who listened to whom and why. This led, in a year or so, to a situation where the shy teenager, became one of the popular group of girls in high school.
Outi explains it was a role she tested, and that she learned to anticipate people’s behaviour, how to appeal to them and what they like.
“I do not only think what kind of outfit is good for you, but I am also interested in what do others think when they see you in that particular outfit, I predict the opinions of others too. That’s the reason what makes me an excellent person to do tailor-made outfits, perfect clothes”, Outi amplifies.
Knowing what a quick-witted person she is today, it’s hard to believe that she’s once been shy. But strong-minded, determined, that’s what she has been her whole life and that’s what sparkles from her every minute.
“I don’t dwell on past or issues. It sucks”, Outi states with a grin on her face, “I have always realised that certain things in life aren’t choices. Certain matters happen to you and certain tools are given to you – it’s your own choice whether you make the best out of it or just complain all the time.”
It goes without saying that Outi has used the tools given to her well. At the same time, she is an amazing, creative, shape-understanding person and then again, “the tinfoil hat of Remake EkoDesign”, who knows numbers, is analytical, systematic and technically gifted.
Clearly, Outi values open source thinking, co-operation and that’s why she wants to share her knowledge on textiles and fashion with everyone else too. She wants to humanise clothes and help people to make better choices.
With an encouraging tone, Outi explains that everyone can prepare and fix something. In addition to Trashion, she helps people to take care of their clothes as long as possible and shares her ideas, interesting DIY-instructions and clothing solutions on her blog. She wants to show that the same instructions can be used in many ways, and the same shirts can serve different styles from punk to vintage when it is made from different fabric.
“People haven’t quite yet understood that the amount of textiles we consume is huge”, Outi says.
She thinks fashion isn’t seen as an important matter in Finland, compared to Italy, for example, where style is a big part of everyday life.
“I want help people to see what are the consequences of their choices. If you choose this, the impact is here”, Outi explains and moves her hand from left to right, “and the impact is also in everyday life. You can manage with 100 clothes instead of 350, they last longer with the right care, your home is tidier, there’s less garbage, you save money and so on.”
In the future, Outi would love to make an international version of her DIY book Trashion. She emphasises that the know-how of hers and her business partner Paula Malleus is globally unique. That project, however, needs a lot of money.
In ten years or so she would also love to teach the rag trade and promote a more sustainable way of the textile industry so that in 20 years there would still be jobs in this field in Finland. But that, however, would need more education.
Or then she would want to return to her first love: aeroplanes and flying.
“If I didn’t do this, I would apply for a job in the airport. A café perhaps. It would just be cool”, Outi says with determination in her voice.