The Secrets of the Fashion Industry – Interview with Lea Aaltonen from T’Uomo Menswear Helsinki

Last week, I visited T’Uomo menswear store in the center of Helsinki on Bulevardi 1.
I came during the opening hour which is at 10 in the morning. I was warmly greeted by one of the staff, Lea Aaltonen.
Lea has been working at the store since its beginning, but prior to that, she has a long history of working in fashion. At the age of 18, she got her first job as a salesperson at the Helsinki’s biggest menswear boutique at the time, later she was even an owner of a jewelry company and had her own footwear store.Oh, and she’s also a daughter of a famous Finnish actor, Risto Aaltonen.

We were discussing menswear and trends among younger people, but she also brought up some of the hottest secrets in the fashion industry at the moment.
And who is better to expose than someone who has been in the industry for 32 years.
One thing is for sure, Lea is a free-thinker in the industry in which most people aren’t.

On Finnish customers

Finnish people want ecological materials. Also, the thing is that here [in our store], all materials are proven to be real. We don’t want any ‘child’ labels, we don’t want plastics. Nowadays, people from Nordic countries know what they want and they want something real and of good quality.

On men’s fashion

Men don’t care about brands. They come here and ask: “What do you have?”, not “What brand is it?”. It’s not important. They are like: “I need trousers.”
Yes, it just needs to be good quality and sit well. They just care that it is all made of natural materials, without polyester inside and hopefully, that it is made in Europe. If it’s made in Europe and it has all natural fabrics, it’s good. And if it’s made in China, people already know that it is bu**shit.

On her opinion on fashion

When I started working, I thought fashion was something really cool and the brands are “wow”. I thought that you had to follow trends. But then, when you start to get older, you know what is behind. You know all the processes, you know who is trying to get cheaper fabrics and pay less to workers. Then, it just all vanishes… The brand’s idea in your head. It all goes away, once you realize what is behind. It’s not glamour what is behind. It’s nothing like sustainability.

On the fashion industry’s secrets

Well, the industry is like: “Okay, these materials are maybe 20% cheaper than they were last year, but we won’t tell it to the customers at all. We just keep the same prices or raise them.” And the customers are coming and saying: “The qualities are not the same, but the prices are higher.” And I’m like: “I know.”

On the fashion markets

Nowadays, in fashion, Sweden and Denmark are big things.

We are trying to get clothing from smaller companies where we know what is behind. And we know that they are not big and global companies. We know who they are working with and who is making the clothes.

On faux fur

Faux fur materials are made of plastic and oil. So then again, that shouldn’t be used. But, that’s fashion now. If you would use old fur, it is much more ecological to get than the faux fur.
If you want to think really, you shouldn’t use it. But it is fun looking, definitely. But if you try to think about what is behind…

On youngsters in fashion

But, you know… Nowadays, teenagers just want brands. That’s how it goes, that’s why we always get new models to have more to offer.

On T’Uomo menswear’s offers


We are selling classical things. Our customers are approximately 28-80 years old. We don’t have people who are looking for hoodies here.

But, we have students, too. They want to have one classic 100% woolen jacket for 300 Euros which will last for many years.

On the fun side of the industry

When the customer wants to get something and you find what suits him and then you get this feeling: “Wow, you look good”. That’s the main thing in this. We try to find products which customers like and then we have fun together. It’s not all so serious.
I have found Lea’s answers shocking, but intriguing. She is one of a kind, she values her own opinions and doesn’t let others affect her whilst remaining a kind and funny person.
Do you agree with Lea’s views on fashion? Is the industry that bad? Let us know.

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