• Fresh Runway Designs

    R/H - customers from all age groups

    “R/H’s customer base is made up of mainly women between the ages of 25 and 45, but we’ve also seen women from 16 up to 75 years old,” says R/H cofounder and designer Hanna Riiheläinen. The R/H flagship and studio is located on Hämeentie in the Kallio neighbourhood of Helsinki.

  • æ - individuality and attitude

    æ was born out of an aesthetics-oriented attitude and drive for individualism. “We started our own brand not out of rational reasons but out of a desire to find our own ways of operating in the fashion industry,” says Elina Peltonen, whose designs feature relaxed, fitted looks and soft silhouettes. Frederique Vermaete is also part of the business. Photos: Jarno Parkkima

  • Samuji - outfitting brainy dreamers

    According to Suvi-Elina Enqvist of Samuji, the brand’s simplified designs are made for thoughtful individuals who pay attention to the world around them. “Our target customer is interested in different areas of culture such as art, music, poetry and architecture in addition to questions pertaining to society,” she says.

  • Acolyth - complex and simplified

    Joonas Saari describes his style as no-frills. “Stripped-down looks and products can often still be presented in a multifaceted way. Through Acolyth I aim to express myself more freely and bring to surface aspects outside of my present designer identity,” Saari says.

  • Saara Lepokorpi - lasting design

    “I create clothes for people who have been left cold by mass production,” says Saara Lepokorpi. She hopes for her future clientele to approach clothing purchases as long-term investments instead of buying into a culture of disposability.

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Fresh Runway Designs

Many are familiar with Marimekko and Ivana Helsinki, but what characterizes Finland’s newer, independent fashion scene? Labels and designers such as R/H, Samuji, Saara Lepokorpi, æ and Joonas Saari are known for their originality and their ethical approach.

Among the most buzzed-about Finnish fashion labels is Samuji, established in 2009. Although the brand is a newcomer to the scene, its founder, Samu-Jussi Koski, certainly isn’t: before Samuji, he worked as Marimekko’s artistic director.

Samuji draws inspiration for its clear-cut lines from Slavic culture. The brand is made up of a timeless Classics collection and a more bohemian-inspired Seasonals line.

“Our aim is to offer fashion and product design that supports sustainable development and ecological values. Samuji was born out of a desire to offer flawless, timeless pieces that can provide the foundation for any woman’s wardrobe,” says marketing director Suvi-Elina Enqvist.

A student collaboration brings forth R/H

R/H is the brainchild of Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi, who met as students in Helsinki and established the brand in 2010. According to Riiheläinen, R/H is defined by a distinctive design language and lasting quality. The name of the brand is made up of the first letters of the founders’ last names.

Riiheläinen describes R/H style as one of playful cuts, bold prints, black magic and a clear, Scandinavian design language.

”R/H also has a degree of playfulness and an old-school rock ’n’ roll attitude,” she adds.

New additions: Saari, Lepokorpi and æ

Joonas Saari, who has studied fashion design in London and Helsinki, runs Acolyth, an online store that also stocks his own collection, Acolyth by Joonas Saari.

“My dream is to turn Acolyth into an online store known around the world. It will bring its customers new, affordable designs in a way that hasn’t been done before online,” Saari says. “Making this dream come true would, of course, require a lot of luck.”

Saara Lepokorpi along with ae, a brand run by Alisa Närvänen and Elina Peltonen, premiered their first collections in 2011.

“I wanted to be part of the positive development currently underway in Finland’s fashion industry,” says Lepokorpi who describes her creations as “attention-grabbing, challenging and slightly twisted.”

For Peltonen, who co-founded ae, clothing design means constant exploration and the questioning of norms. “It’s also a very intuitive and emotionally driven process,” she adds.

Cultural Beat

Contrast is the main ingredient in Finnish cultural life, probably because everything looks and sounds different from our northern perspective.

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