When it comes to fashion, Finland
might easily seem to be in the shadow of its Nordic neighbors. Yet the country has its share of great designers who are making a mark on the international scene. The Culture Trip presents ten emerging and established fashion designers that you should know.
Like any industry, fashion constantly encourages and awards new designers who showcase potential to push the industry forward. Young Finnish designer Sophie Sälekari has been under a bright spotlight since graduating in 2013, and is one to keep an eye on. She attended Helsinki’s Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture, and specializes in print design for both men and women. Her bold use of color and interesting material choices has been awarded both inside and outside of Finland, with the most notable being her collections that made the finals of H&M Design Award in 2014 as well as the prestigious Hyerès International Festival of Fashion and Photography in 2015.
Satu Maaranen has a background in art and an expertise in print design and sculptural shapes. Her career has been on the rise since she graduated in 2012 from Aalto University and won first prize at the Hyéres festival in 2013. She’s been featured in some of fashion’s biggest publications, showcased in exhibitions, and this year, she was nominated in the British Design Museum’s Designs of the Year Awards among Raf Simons and J.W. Anderson. The designer currently works on commission base for Finnish, as well as international clients.
Satu Maaranen, Tehtaankatu 13 B 29, Helsinki, Finland, +358 40 8227830
Marimekko, established in 1951, is a heritage design house and a household name that stretches across and beyond the borders of Finland. You’ll most likely recognize the iconic floral print called Unikko, which is credited to have pushed the growth of the brand in the 1960s. With a unique approach that mixes contemporary and classic, Finnish heritage and international appeal, Marimekko continues to print bold and optimistic patterns onto high quality textiles, home decor, clothing and accessories. The colorful and bright Finnish flagship store is located in the heart of Helsinki’s Design District .
Marimekko Flagship, Pohjoisesplanadi 33, Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 686 0240
Mirkka Metsola’s portfolio includes designing custom-made outfits and evening gowns for several Finnish artists and collaborations with large companies, including Soda Stream Finland, L’Oréal Pro Finland and Design Hotel Klaus K. She is a Helsinki-based designer currently living in Berlin and her namesake ready-to-wear label is inspired by art, movies, music and subcultures. The collections are characterized by contemporary edgy, yet feminine silhouettes with splashes of print and color. Mirkka Metsola has several retailers in Finland and in addition has held pop-ups across Berlin, Paris, Saint Petersburg, Reykjavik, Amsterdam and Belgium.
Mirkka Metsola, +358 40 732 2792
Footwear designer Minna Parikka’s universe has no space for anything conventional or boring. There’s a mirrored kissing booth in her wonderland-like flagship shop on Helsinki’s main shopping street, which directly reflects everything you should know about the brand’s identity. The shoes and accessories fearlessly combine contemporary design and craftsmanship with elements of surrealism, bringing excitement and liveliness to the sidewalks season after season. The creations, which have previously referenced everything from cartoon characters to sushi dishes, have an ever-growing following, including bold and playful women like Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Paloma Faith and Beth Ditto.
Minna Parikka, Aleksanterinkatu 36, Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 667 554
After separately gaining experience at Zac Posen in New York and Berlin’s Agency V, Aalto University graduates Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi came together in 2010 and established R/H. Since launching the brand, they have gained international recognition for playfully approaching the practical Scandinavian aesthetic by mixing contemporary, effortless silhouettes and minimalistic shapes with interesting prints and details. They are inspired by atmospheres, music and the female anatomy, and their collections are sold by contemporary urban retailers all over the globe.
R/H, Fredrikinkatu 18, Helsinki, Finland, +358 44 7021111
Lumi Accessories is a leather company that has designed bags, shoes and small accessories since 2000. Lumi actually means both “snow” and “white” in the Finnish language, as an equal balance of all the colors on the spectrum is central to the brand. Their products are designed by co-founder Sanna Kantola, who has previously designed bags for Ralph Lauren, and are defined by timelessness, functionality, purity and authenticity. Sustainability also plays a large part in the company’s design philosophy and increasing the use of vegetable leather tanning is one of their most recent ecological initiatives. Lumi has its own shops in Helsinki, Kyoto, and Berlin.
Lumi Supermarket, Aleksanterinkatu 28, Helsinki, Finland, +358 20 734 8871
Samu-Jussi Koski is one of Finland’s most talked about designers and his contemporary brand Samuji, launched in 2013, has gained large popularity outside of the country. Koski designs both womenswear and menswear under his label that splits into two separate lines: one introducing classic wardrobe staples and the other seasonal collections with more color and flair. Both Samuji lines focus on sustainability and functionality, embodying a sense of understated, urban sophistication, which many Scandinavian fashion brands have been noted for. The collections are sold in their Helsinki stores and through selected stockists in Europe, Asia and America.
Samuji, Erottajankatu 9, Helsinki, Finland, +358 40 350 7976
Designer Paola Suhonen and her sister Pirjo Suhonen founded Ivana Helsinki in 1988. The brand is a pioneer in introducing Finnish fashion design to the world and is known for keeping Nordic heritage and storytelling at its core. Having studied at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, Paola Suhonen uniquely mixes fashion, art and film to create captivating stories that bring life to the brand. The clothing collections, often inspired by things like dreamy road trips, passionate relationships and Scandinavian melancholy, have been on the official schedules of fashion weeks in London, Paris and New York, and the brand has collaborated with several international companies including Topshop, Google, Swarovski, and Canon.
Ivana Helsinki Flagship, Uudenmaankatu 15, Helsinki, Finland, +358 50 505 1624