Ulla-Maaria Mutanen


Ethical vintage
Ulla-Maaria Mutanen (32), researcher and developer

”As a teenager I started to feel that classic vintage clothes suit my style. They felt familiar and looked elegant combined with mild punk. I started collecting cool garments from my grand parents’ attic, flea markets and second hand stores. With my best friends we also crafted all sorts of “fashion outfits”. It was like an entertaining role-play.

When I studied at the School of Economics, I totally lost my sense of personality and style. I started to dress like everybody else and use standard brands. When I turned thirty I found myself again, this time more feminine and funny. I think it is important not to take oneself too seriously. I don’t dress up to be beautiful but to feel my “full potential”.

My favourite fashion decades are between 1920s and 1960s. Vintage clothes are made of good materials, they are well cut and often unique.

Even if I wear clothes from 1950s, I’m a woman of my own time. I have always worked with academic researchers, technology companies and design professionals. Some years ago I felt that I'm not credible in these circles if I look too cute. So I cut and dyed my hair, and stopped using skirts. That did not feel good.

I think that the essence of fashion is both in the aesthetics as well as in the stories behind garments. Whenever I buy things I want to learn about their background. Every object can teach us something.

I have stopped buying clothes unless they are second hand or designed and made by someone I know. I think anything else in these times is unethical. The global textile and fashion industry waste enormous amount of resources that we would need for food production.

Now that I’m pregnant I mainly use Marimekko dresses from 1960s."

Personal-looking people who dare to combine things. See hel-looks.com

Red, black, white and other art deco –colors

Natural: wool, cotton, linen, silk

Favourite accessory
Black pill hats

Most hated
Mass-produced clothes. They’re dead.

*Photograph by Juliana Harkki
*Originally published in the Finnish women's magazine Olivia
*Translated by Ulla from Finnish into English


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