Otilje's Systue: Changing Consumerism

by Christine Kalvik
February 12, 2021
A reportage on how to create a workshop with slow fashion as the core value. In a world where retail and jobs may feel temporary due to an unknown future because of COVID-19, Otilje took the huge step of starting her own business.
Challenging consumerism and fast fashion stores by encouraging people to get the items already in their possession altered and repaired.
By creating innovative workshops, we can change consumer habits and prolong the service life of each customer’s wardrobe and/or individual garment.
As consumerism and fast fashion are well on their way out, the idea that you can extend an item's lifespan by maintaining or making alteration to the item has become increasingly popular. Many people do this work themselves, but a whole group of people know nothing about a needle and thread. Otilje Strandkås saw the potential presented by these people and has started a workshop called Otilje’s Systue (Otilje’s Sewing Shed, in Norwegian) where she alters and repairs items of clothing, and restores and repairs car interiors. She is a multipurpose woman who undertakes all sorts of projects related to fabrics and sewing.

About Otilje

She is a woman full of passion, and that is reflected in the work she does. She shows great attention to detail in all the items she lays her hands on, and her customers value the precision of her work. Otilje has two craft certificates in Industrial Seam and Dress and Suit Seam. In times gone by, she would have been called a tailor – but she is a very flexible tailor. She saw an opportunity in the market and in her local area. As nobody else was doing this as their job (just as a hobby, or as more prominent companies doing similar work as a sideline), she grabbed the opportunity.

Prolonging the lifespan of clothes

Her workshop contributes to giving her customers' clothes a longer lifespan, keeping her customers from perhaps buying new items in a fast fashion store. These choices can be seen as being both financially and environmentally beneficial. By choosing not to buy new clothes, but paying instead to repair an item they already own, customers are changing their consumer habits. In the long run, her customers are saving money by not buying several new versions of what they already own. In doing so, they are no longer supporting fast fashion stores, and they are changing the environmental impact caused by their consumption habits.

Avoiding sizes and cliches

Another essential aspect Otilje wants to highlight is the importance of changing the focus regarding clothes and how they fit a person. In a world where people tell you to lose weight so that you can fit into pants that are a size too small, she wants the focus to change from ‘change the person to fit the item’ to ‘change the item to fit the person’.

Reach her at