Renowned designer Klaus Haapaniemi creates ”wild” print for Reima’s highly functional children’s line
After using xylitol to cool kids’ skin up to 1-3 degrees when they get sweaty and an Anti-Bite insect repellent for their summer wear, the leading Finnish kidswear brand teams up with top designer for its first-ever collab.
1 Mar 2022

Chief creative officer Sari Perttunen shares how the Finnish brand has grown from a highly product-oriented and home-market-driven company to a brand-driven, international, and leading kids-only activewear producer during the past decade. This week, the brand launches its first-ever collab as well as the first kids’ innerwear line, designed together with internationally recognized artist and designer Klaus Haapaniemi.

— We found his imagination and recognisable hand-writing combined with a love of nature a perfect match for us, Perttunen tells. We’re known for unique prints, so it was quite clear from the beginning that a print pattern would suit our needs best. Klaus imagined spring nature as kids see it and designed the rich Niitty (Spring Field) pattern for us. We’ve used the whole pattern on both innerwear and outerwear items, and extracted characters from the print to create beautiful embroideries, too. The result is quite unlike anything we’ve done before: delicate, decorative, fresh, and you could say even slightly wild in a gentle way. Many innerwear items are festive enough for special occasions, but not too festive for everyday use, so they perfectly follow our design principle of sustainable multifunctionality and comfort above all, while the materials are eco-efficient as well.

— The starting point was that I never design for any age group in particular, my work is for everyone, Klaus Haapaniemi explains. We kept the collection consistent and impactful by using only one print design in various ways. My design is about looking closely at nature’s microcosmos.

Given that this is a kids’ innerwear collection, functionality is obviously key. How have you worked with that?

— Reima is especially known for their knowledge in functional winter outerwear, so it was interesting to implement their knowledge for summer, especially sun protection and other details that make clothes more functional for small children. The collection is created for the whole season, starting from heavier materials for spring and heading towards breezy summer clothes.

Sari, Klaus mentioned it and clothes with sun protection is just one of your recent innovative initiatives. Can you tell us more about how you drive innovation?

— It runs deep in our DNA. We’ve developed new fabrics tailor-made for our products starting from the 50s and we’re still doing it. In the early days, durability and waterproof properties were the prime goals of innovations, but now, as those are common technology and can easily be achieved, the focus is more on kids’ health and comfort, she tells, continuing,

— For instance, our product development includes the cooling Xylitol Cool activewear and the Anti-Bite insect repellent summerwear. The xylitol in the finish is the same tooth-protecting sweetener that is in our chewing gum. It absorbs heat when it meets moisture, thus cooling kids’ skin up to 1-3 degrees when they get sweaty. The repellent on the surface of our Anti-Bite wear is non-toxic and won’t harm anyone, not even the insects, it just confuses them and so they won’t sting. Both technologies are friendly to kids and nature, and the collections are also made with sustainable materials, organic cotton and recycled polyester.

— We have put a lot of energy to improve our ecological approach in material development in all the categories recently, as we are to fulfil the high sustainability targets we have. It’s been a big task also for our R&D team, especially because of the many specific demands we have for being eligible for international kids’ markets, where each of them has its own different safety requirements.

What’s next for you?

— I work full time for our own collection, says Haapaniemi, so I choose carefully which special projects I take on. This year I have worked with luxury chocolates Godiva in Japan, created a special 15th-anniversary product for Taika with Iittala and there are a few exhibitions coming up in Berlin, Madrid, and a new visual arts museum in Lahti, Finland.

— A second part of the Klaus Haapaniemi collection is coming up for the summer, with beachwear that’s highly UV protective. Later on, for the next autumn, our super warm Megapito winter boots just won two valued outdoor awards: the ISPO Award and the Scandinavian Outdoor Award, says Sari Perttunen. She adds:

— It’s always been our goal to produce durable gear that can be used by more than one child. We now see research proving that reusing products is our strongest weapon against climate change, instead of throwing them away and making new ones. Design that’s good-looking and current, yet durable and classic enough to stay in several consecutive kids’ use for 20 years or more is our strength and we’re on a good success path both in the US and China. It’s exciting to see the kids’ apparel segment trending on a global scale — the challenge is to keep our authentic design in line with the brand and the collection relevant to all the markets we are in.