The story of Image Wear began in 1959, when Eero Sarin, the sales manager of commercial business in Saarioinen, founded an agency named Laitosto. Laitosto sold canned goods, spices, detergents and cleaning agents to hospitals, industrial kitchens and nursing homes. During his sales trips, Eero Sarin noticed that both the patients and personnel lacked uniform clothing, and the quality of patients’ clothes was not great either. The very next year, Sarin got an idea to manufacture clothes for workers and patients. The first clothes manufactured by the company were flannel pyjamas for patients, which were soon followed by aprons designed for hospital personnel. In 1969, canned food and detergents were completely removed from the sold range, to make way for patient clothing and workwear, and the company moved to its current location in Hankkio, Tampere.
The national standard for hospital clothing established in 1972 gave a further impetus, and in the early 1980s the market share of the company in hospital clothing in Finland accounted for around 70 per cent. In 1976, hospital clothing was supplemented by clothes for other industries, as Laitosto started to manufacture workwear, for example, for the construction industry.
In the second half of the 1980s, Sarin started to plan his retirement and negotiated business deals with both Finlayson and Tampellan Tekstiilit. When the deals were cancelled due to changes in the ownership structure of Finlayson, Sarin made a proposition to the head of Finlayson's interior textiles team Pekka Vettenranta, who had participated in the negotiations, to buy Laitosto.
Vettenranta family buys Laitosto
Spring 1987 was a time of new beginnings in the Vettenranta family. Pekka and Auli Vettenranta from Tampere took a big step in their lives – they bought the Laitosto business that had been founded in 1959, and became entrepreneurs. Together, they decided to dress the Finnish people for work, and from day one it was clear that manufacturing first-class workwear and being a forerunner required the ability of constant change and learning. The same spirit of undergoing and empowering renewal still characterizes the operations of Image Wear now that the new generation has taken over and children Janne and Kati are at the helm of the company.
At Image Wear we know the meaning of work and professionalism for the Finnish - work signifies identity, rhythm, the opportunity to learn something new, one's own community and faith in tomorrow. When people dress in workwear as a sign of their competence, they take their place as professionals in hospitals, factories, construction sites, kitchens - wherever they work. We wish to be close to people who value work as we do, every day. This is why we serve these everyday heroes everywhere they work.
Meticulously selected materials are refined in the skilled hands of our employees into clothes that meet current strict standards. Working along with our clients, we also witness the constant change of the working life. We introduce new technologies and innovative materials to facilitate work in the changing working life. Even if work seeks new forms, the value of a professional remains.
Without solid foundations, the forces of change could lead one astray. Image Wear with its steady growth over the decades still draws its inspiration for everyday work from its roots. We are proud that our history is the history of a Finnish professional, industrialization and the Finnish pop songs. We do not just go with the flow of change, we want to instigate a change, to lead the entire industry to new directions.
If anything is permanent in the world, it is the inevitability of growth, development and change. The need of a person to do meaningful work is also permanent. At us in Image Wear, these are intertwined into a firm fabric - an opportunity to do something completely new.