Zalando honours pioneers of the Finnish LGBTQI+ community in its new campaign, ‘Dresscode Freedom’

Four portrait collage
  • Zalando launches the campaign, ‘Dresscode Freedom’, which honours Finnish senior LGBTQI+ pioneers Axu Sahaa, Tiina Lindforsia, Juha Laurikaista and Lars Svartsrömiä.
  • This year, Zalando and Helsinki Pride celebrate a multitude of milestones within the LGBTQI+ community in Finland by putting the spotlight on the pioneers that made them possible
  • Zalando and Helsinki Pride confirm a strong partnership; for the second time, Zalando is the main sponsor


BERLIN, 28 JUNE, 2021 // Today, Zalando, Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle, launches its campaign ‘Dresscode Freedom’, which honours four Finnish senior LGBTQI+ pioneers: Axu Sahaa, Tiina Lindforsia, Juha Laurikaista and Lars Svartsrömiä. The campaign sets out to put the spotlight on senior pioneers in the Finnish LGBTQI+ community who paved the way for the rights of self-expression in Finland. In 2020, Zalando was the main partner of Helsinki Pride for the first time and, this year, the two parties have agreed to continue the partnership.


This year’s Helsinki Pride marks a multitude of milestones in Finland. In 2021, it will have been 50 years since homosexuality was removed from the Finnish criminal code and 40 years since homosexuality was no longer classified as a disease in the country. Furthermore, it has been 30 years since the LGBTQI+ advocacy group, Seta and the Helsinki Pride community were founded and 10 years since transvestism and sexual fetishism were removed from the list of classified diseases.


To mark this special celebratory year, Zalando, Helsinki Pride’s main partner, has dressed a group of LGBTQI+ pioneers in the outfits they were dreaming of wearing when they were unable to choose the clothing that most expressed their identity. Bringing their fabulous styles and stories to the forefront of the ‘Dresscode Freedom’ campaign, Zalando wants to pay tribute to the groundbreakers that carved the path for a more tolerant, inclusive and equal society.


The campaign also shows Zalando’s ambition to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive future for everyone. The platform recently shared its new strategy for diversity and inclusion, do.BETTER, which defines 12 diversity and inclusion commitments to be “inclusive by design” for its creators, leaders, customers and partners. The vision is the starting point for fashion that welcomes everyone.


“I’ve had to live in the closet when it comes to dressing. I already knew as a child that I only wanted to wear boys' clothes and it was good for me to be in them,” says Axu Saha. “However, I was forced to wear a dress at a party, which was a traumatic experience. Long after that, I hated partying until, as an adult, I realized I could buy myself just the kind of party outfit I wanted, and I bought my first tuxedo shirt. For me, it is the freedom to dress for every situation, just the way I want to.”


”These values and the stories of real people matter a lot to us and allow us to engage with our diverse customers. The freedom to choose your outfit and the way you dress has a vital role when it comes to our identities. We at Zalando want everyone to have the freedom to express themselves by dressing the way they like”, says Natalie Wills, Director of Social Media & Consumer PR, Zalando. ”This campaign celebrates people who were forced to hide away their true selves and conform to the prevailing dress codes and norms of the time,” she continues. “We want to give the spotlight to pioneers who carved the path for the rights that gender and sexual minorities have today. It’s time to wear those dream outfits and proudly and boldly show them to the world. This campaign is a tribute and a thank you to them.''


”This year gives us cause for celebration many times over. If it were not for the active effort of these pioneers and forerunners, we wouldn’t be celebrating many of the rights they have won for us. All the activism and campaigning for human rights has contributed and influenced the legal rights we now have. It has not been an easy road”, says Aaro Horsma, Executive Director of Helsinki Pride, expressing their gratitude.


Zalando is the main partner of Helsinki Pride. With the ‘Dresscode Freedom’ campaign, Zalando continues to highlight familiar faces from the previous Pride. Both last year’s pride campaign, ‘The Liberation Closet’, and ‘Dresscode Freedom’ were created in cooperation with the creative agency SEK.

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About Zalando

Zalando is Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle. Founded in Berlin in 2008, we bring head-to-toe fashion to more than 46 million active customers in 23 markets, offering clothing, footwear, accessories, and beauty. The assortment of international brands ranges from world famous names to local labels. Our platform is a one-stop fashion destination for inspiration, innovation, and interaction. As Europe’s most fashionable tech company, we work hard to find digital solutions for every aspect of the fashion journey: for our customers, partners and every valuable player in the Zalando story. Our vision is to be the Starting Point for Fashion and a sustainable platform with a net-positive impact for people and the planet.

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