The world of Cuitu: a source of environmentally friendly inspiration

An eye-opening scuba diving experience in Bali reframed Anna Kytövuori’s career path and worked as an inspiration to create Cuitu, a brand of street style accessories made from upcycled fabrics as well as a community of changemakers.

«The place was unbelievably covered with trash, and it was awful to see the surface of the ocean in such condition», says the cofounder of Cuitu, talking about the anecdote that made her question her career choices and that made her think she wanted to do something active for the environment.

She was experiencing a massive overflowing of materials polluting the water she needed to train in to get her scuba diving licence.

A moment of ordinary joy turned into a moment of deep frustration.

Once back to Finland, Anna went from studying international business to signing up for classes on entrepreneurship, aiming at finding a way to revert the polluting trend of nowadays fashion industry.

«I know it can be a cultural issue how people relate to materials but it’s also an infrastructural issue as long as there’s a lack of the proper infrastructures so that people can’t recycle», explains Anna.

As a matter of fact, the European Parliament writes: «Every year, 12.6 million tonnes of textile waste are generated in the EU. Clothing and footwear alone account for 5.2 million tonnes of waste, equivalent to 12 kg of waste per person every year. It is estimated that less than 1% of all textiles worldwide are recycled into new products».

Following the winning of a university competition that awarded the initial project as the best university-born start-up in Finland, Cuitu saw the light that same year, in 2019.

Anna was not alone in embarking on the adventure. While preparing for the competition she shared her ideas with what we know today to be the rest of the team behind Cuitu.

«We really wanted Cuitu’s main core business to be revolving around the choice of materials. From that, adjusting all the other processes such as the design process so, make the latter run based on the kind of materials we find available. We wanted everything to start from choosing the fabrics», continues Anna.

The name itself Cuitu stands for circuit and goes back to the circularity of materials and the “waste to value” attitude at the core of the business itself.

The material-centred strategy of the brand takes root in the upcycling of industrial cutting leftovers, “pre consumer” waste – “fabrics that the consumer hasn’t touched yet; in this way we can avoid chemical processes to clean it”, clarifies Anna – as well as deadstock fabrics that are not of use to the production.

Our first material supplier has been a diving suits producer. We just fell in love with the fabric, and we noticed there was a lot of cutting leftovers. After a process of negotiations with the supplier, we created a system to pick up the fabric surplus, we take care of it by sorting out the pieces we can use and we design the products from the chosen pieces.”, explains Anna.

This is where collaboration is key because it ensures that Cuitu can get the materials needed to design and produce its accessories.

We have now three main suppliers of materials, so we were also able to widen our portfolio. The tricky part is that we cannot rely 100% on the continuity of the stock, for sure, but it also makes everything more unique and limited edition

Cuitu’s uniqueness is also ensured by a tailor who handcrafts each product – something that upholds artisans’ role as a key resource in the perception of a more sustainable fashion.

With its multiwear and gender fluid items from top-quality circular materials, matching an “eighties nostalgia” vibe, Cuitu wants to create a community of changemakers with a sensibility towards environmental as well as social sustainability in fashion.