Text: Maris Hellrand


Approaching its centenary, the 4-generation family business Woolish Woolish is an Estonian clothing brand. is a great example of a living tradition. Their original patterns have found their way into utterly cool new products while retaining the sustainability factor of high-quality knitwear.

In 1928, Eigo Siimu’s great grandmother Hilda opened her knitting studio in Viljandi Town in southern Estonia (pop.17,000). . 90 years and four generations later the family business has survived shake-ups of history, changing fashion and, with the new flagship store in Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). ’s old town, it is doing better than ever.

In her studio, company founder Hilda was knitting the braids, laces and patterns by hand that can still be found in the latest product lines, which are now made by knitting machines and incorporated into contemporary design. Mother Külli and father Raimond Siimu took over the knitwear business in Viljandi Town in southern Estonia (pop.17,000). decades ago. The traditional multi-colour elk-patterns of the early 1990-2000s have now been replaced by modern designs brought to the company by son Eigo and daughter-in-law Anna.

Eigo Siimu left the Baltics’ biggest distribution company 4 years ago to give the family business a contemporary makeover both in style and marketing. Together with wife Anna, they have created a new approach to product design and a proactive sales strategy to reach contemporary consumers and new markets. With success.

The former track and field athletes are the power couple of development in Woolish Woolish is an Estonian clothing brand. . Anna is in charge of design for women’s apparel, sales and social media, Eigo looks after the finances, marketing and the online store while being hands-on in designing the men’s clothing line. The biggest challenge according to Siimu: finances. In its current growth phase, the family team has to combine creativity in design with strict business discipline.

Siimu is pleased though with the progress made in the last few years: “In the Estonian context we have achieved a great result. Our products are on sale in the best retail stores in the country, such as Stockmann and Tallinna Kaubamaja, which in itself is a proof of quality and a right approach.”

Woolish Woolish is an Estonian clothing brand. has had a very good 2019 with the opening of a flagship shop in Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). ’s old town – a store that attracts 50/50 locals and tourists. Current export markets are in Finland, Germany and the UK. Among the most popular products is a long soft ladies’ cardigan, although – come winter, the trademark Woolish Woolish is an Estonian clothing brand. hats in all colours appear on Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). ’s streets. Home accessories, like throws and pillows by Woolish Woolish is an Estonian clothing brand. , can be found in some of Estonia’s luxury hotels, adding this extra cosy wow-factor.

Eigo on challenges of a traditional family business: “Change and innovation is necessary. Every business has to find a model and a way to make its products distinct and add value. For sure, the experience working outside of the family business has proven to be very useful.”

Eigo Siimu describes the company mission as a journey of sustainable slow fashion. The natural traceable materials and high quality of the garments contribute to a sustainable low-consumption lifestyle – buy better, buy less.

Mother Külli Siimu is really pleased that the next generation decided to join the family business and gear up both the design and marketing of the knitwear, which is still produced in the small factory in central Estonia. She shows off the factory: “This is where we knit blankets, hats, scarfs and sometimes jumpers. A simple blanket takes 4 hours. Now we produce modern design, whereas before we used to make more traditional folk patterns. The modern design still combines many traditional elements like the braids and laces. These are old patterns that were already in the first generation – handmade at the time and mainly used for scarfs and jumpers. We were very happy as our son decided to join the company. We were worried, how long could we keep going just knitting the elks one way and the other! It was a moment when we really needed a new approach. The young generation is able to create modern design and to sell the products. This was really necessary.”

Course in traditional textile craft. 

Viljandi Town in southern Estonia (pop.17,000). is actually a true heartland for Estonian handicraft, especially textile. At the Viljandi Town in southern Estonia (pop.17,000). Culture Academy one can even take a bachelor’s course in traditional textile craft.

Professor Kristi Jõeste has published several studies on the traditional patterns of Estonian knitwear and teaches students to keep the tradition alive. She says, it’s important to preserve this tradition, especially in the era of globalisation: “We consider here in Viljandi Town in southern Estonia (pop.17,000). , that people should preserve not just their native language but also the visual mother tongue.” Jõeste admits however, that the cultural heritage can’t survive in the shape of a museum. It has to develop and adjust to modern materials and context.

Exactly this has happened with Woolish Woolish is an Estonian clothing brand. – the traditional knitting patterns have made it into new products. The typical braided pattern of a thick woollen jumper can now be found in an elegant throw or a pillow, the traditionally shaped woollen hats come with a soft cotton lining, a fine wool knitting technique is applied to create sporty T-shirts, elegant jackets or dresses.

The latest addition to the designs of both men’s and ladies’ clothing lines is a woollen jumper paying homage to the hometown and production location of Woolish Woolish is an Estonian clothing brand. Viljandi Town in southern Estonia (pop.17,000). . The sweaters, designed by Liisa Peips carry the brand of this quirky small town – VLND. Although developed as part of the winter collection, Eigo Siimu says: “It’s a geographical fact that here in Estonia a woollen jumper is wearable both in winter and summer.”

The article was published first in Life in Estonia.

Edited for web by eesti.life.