Fashion duo on turning down a McDonald’s collab proposal — and going viral afterwards
Jimi Vain and Roope Reinola played it cool. Now, many believe that they’re Finland’s next big fashion export.
31 May 2023

Half a year ago, Finnish fashion brand Vain’s Creative Director Jimi Vain and CEO Roope Reinola, both 24, received a quite special request.

— For some reason, McDonald’s emailed us and said that they wanted to have a meeting with us, Vain remembers. They wanted to make a small capsule of streetwear stuff. And we said no. We wanted to make a whole collection. And we wanted to make it from recycled McDonald’s workwear.

McDonald’s said yes, and the fashion collection was made almost entirely from the restaurant chain’s used staff uniforms.

— The process started with me designing the clothing and after that, we gathered their old working clothes from all around Finland and washed, prepared, cut, and sewed them. Then, we made the collection, which was shown in a McDonald’s restaurant right outside of Helsinki.

And what did you create?

— It was a homage to our childhood home, Jimi Vain, Creative Director. We grew up in the countryside in Ostrobothnia — a very rural part of Finland — and there weren’t really any dedicated spaces for us to hang out as teenagers. The local McDonald’s and its parking lot sort of fulfilled that function for us. It was accessible to anyone and with a familiar vibe. Also, it was the closest we could get to global pop culture out there in the north, so we have actually always played with the idea of doing a collaboration with them.

How did it become viral?

— We did the campaign ourselves, thanks to NORD DDB (an ad agency, Ed’s note), giving us free hands to produce and who we wanted to photograph and work with, says Vain.

— But the most important thing, Reinola continues, was that one week before the shoot, we asked them: ’Can we go to an empty McDonald’s and go to the kitchen for a film and TikTok videos?’. We then brought a whole group of friends there and took a lot of photos when we were just doing our own hamburgers, having fun, and filming TikTok videos. The first video, which was released right before the show, got around 5 million TikTok views so it was already pushing to be a big thing. And then, after we did the runway (show inside the McDonald’s restaurant), it took maybe two days, and we thought that it was a good start but that it just didn’t explode. Then, one evening, it did explode — and we were up the whole night on our iPhones.

Do you know the reason why it went viral?

— I think the main reason was that people recognised that it was real McDonald’s clothing, that the people were in a kitchen in a restaurant, and doing the hamburgers. They believed that there is one country in the world — Finland, some small country somewhere — that has like the most fucking awesome work uniforms at Mcdonald’s. Nobody knew that it was a collaboration or similar, and I think that’s the spark that made it possible to become so viral.

It was about the unexpected.

— Yes!

Vain x McDonald’s.

This was in November last year. Now, over 200 million hits on TikTok later and with visibility in the likes of CNN and FT, many believe that Jimi Vain and Roope Reinola have clearly made a name for themselves. Last January, they also took the stage for the runway debut in Palazzo Pucci in Florence, as part of the official Pitti Uomo show programme. Again, using recycled materials, where dark colours and metallic materials come together as an ode to rural Finland’s bleak and gloomy ambience.

— At the end of the day, I’m a romantic at heart, says Jimi Vain, and our FW23 collection is all about love. About the music I love, the art and culture I love, the people I love. It’s all there in my work.