Interview by Katja Räisänen | Pictures by Self-Assembly | Copy Editing Matthew Jones

Matti Liimatainen graduated as a fashion designer in 2011 from Aalto University and currently prepares his PhD about fashion industry’s automation. His research on the subject inspired Liimatainen to establish his first brand Self-Assembly. Liimatainen sees clothes as an extension of the biological body and usually wears the same outfit every day.

What is Self-Assembly, S-A?

ML: Self-Assembly is a clothing label that makes garment construction kits. All S-A products are sold as loose components, which need to be joined together before they are ready to be worn. The assembly process doesn’t require any tools or prior skills.

What is essential about S-A?

ML: The most essential part of S-A is the right balance between the product design and the assembly process. The assembly needs to be pleasant and relatively easy, but on the other hand, it must not compromise the product. The assembly is only done once, but the product needs to work for years and years.

Photography by Self-Assembly
Illustration by Self-Assembly

How did you end up as a fashion designer?

ML: From an early age, I liked making and building all kinds of things, and clothing was relatively easy to access compared to making furniture, for example.

What inspires you the most?

ML: I’m very inspired by the processes that create forms in nature: evolution, morphogenesis, reaction-diffusion, fractals, fluid dynamics, etc. I find it especially fascinating that there are some universal forms, which repeat in totally different domains.

Photography by Self-Assembly

What about time, what is the value of consuming time in relation to your new concept? On the other hand automation saves time in theory, but at the same time, the consumer needs to use it more.

ML: In this sense, I think it’s easier to compare S-A products to LEGO kits or jigsaw puzzles. Nobody likes to buy them ready assembled; the construction process is an integral part of the experience.

Regarding automation, creating the seam structure needs thousands of small calculations in order for the pieces to fit together properly, so it would not be feasible to do it by hand. The timesaving from automation makes the whole idea possible.

Photography by Self-Assembly


Photography by Self-Assembly


What is your favourite piece of clothing or accessory?

ML: I have to say, the S-A 5-panel cap. I’ve been trying to find a cap like that forever, and I added it to the collection just so I could have one.

What do you think of the future of fashion industry?

ML: I think that fashion, like many other fields, is going towards automation at the moment. There are too many repetitive processes in every stage, from design to product development and from pattern cutting to production. I think automating the mundane tasks will free up everyone’s time to focus on the more creative parts of the process.

For whom are they made for? Where can you buy them now and in future?

ML: S-A clothes are aimed for DIY minded people who like the idea of making their own clothes, but don’t necessarily want to learn how to knit or sew in order to do that. At the moment you can only buy the products from the S-A website. In the future, I would like to have them made and sold locally near the customers.