Last modified 2.3.2012 at 12:11
Swapping clothes with the Finns
Text: Riikka Vuorijärvi Photo: Petteri Löppönen
Flea markets are popular places to buy clothes in Finland, but clothing swaps are something new. An Italian exchange student experienced the event on the coldest day of the year.
Lauracarmen D’Agata arrived to Oulu in the middle of the winter. This young woman from Italy studies music in the Oulu University of Applied Sciences. She is lucky enough to own a warm outdoor outfit, but she would not mind getting something new to her wardrobe.
Clothing swaps sound an interesting place to go. This would also be a good chance to visit Valve, Oulu youth and culture center, which is located on Hallituskatu 7 near the Oulu city hall. In Valve, there is always something going on.
On the coldest day of the year the temperature is 20 degrees Celsius below zero. In Lauracarmen’s hometown of Trieste it is never below five degrees Celsius. Lauracarmen’s eyelashes are white with frost as she enters Valve.
Rags and treasures
The place is already packed with people. An event organised by a local cultural co-operative Puhuri has attracted a lot of people of all ages. The idea is simple: bring some old clothes and take what you need. Lauracarmen seems astonished.
- In Italy, we do not have anything like this. We never buy old clothes, she says.
Do all Italians get dressed according to the latest fashion?
- No, there are always people that walk in rags! she laughs.
Unfortunately, there are mostly rags available at this swapping event. People dig feverishly into the piles of clothes trying to spot out the few quality garments. Lauracarmen starts her search and finds a nice striped sweater.
- I really like this one! she says.
A closer investigation reveals that the sweater comes from Italy, the Mecca of the world fashion.
- We found each other! Lauracarmen exclaims.
A black skirt would also do, but nothing attractive comes up. I suggest that Lauracarmen could visit one of the several flea markets, second hand stores and recycling centers in Oulu. Paljekirppis in Höyhtyä is the largest. All the addresses can be found on the Internet.
It is time to look around a bit and see what Valve has to offer. The cafeteria is still open although it is Sunday evening. On weekdays, lunch is also available. The art exhibitions are open every day until 10 pm. In the three galleries there are exhibitions of local and international photographers and other artists. Lauracarmen finds art photography fascinating.
The beautiful building is filled with culture from top to bottom. There is a cinema studio, where art films and treasures from the archives are shown. The big stage displays dance shows, theatre, rock and jazz concerts. If you wish to do something with your hands, arts and crafts workshops are also available.
Lauracarmen D’Agata looks closely at the info board. Most advertisements are in Finnish, but luckily there is a person at the info desk who can tell more. Valve is definitely the place to find the information of what’s going on in Oulu.
- I think I might visit the galleries frequently, Lauracarmen says.
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