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Fashion from the Nordics brings more and more attention to new sustainability trends and practices, and the Fashion in Helsinki event is no exception thanks to its uncompromising designers and key opinion leaders who are not afraid to build new rules for the industry. Buro Global fashion correspondent Lidia Ageeva reports from Finland.

When it comes to sustainability, nobody does it better than the designer from the Nordics. Take Copenhagen Fashion Week, nicknamed “the greenest” of them all for its concerns about sustainability and strict rules for applicants including 19 Minimal Standards that the brands need to meet to be on the calendar. The Finnish creative agency Juni Communication decided to come up with a different approach. What if it is possible to produce an event that will be different from any other fashion gathering? Shifting attention to culture and crafts rather than traditional catwalks? More of a fashion forum, than a classic fashion week, Fashion in Helsinki is a new rendez-vous on the calendar that brings together a collaborative catwalk, where all of the hottest local names show the best pieces from their recent collections (nothing has to be new, most of the pieces were already seen at Copenhagen FW), and Aalto fashion school graduate collections Näytös. There are also showroom visits, a Fashion Awards ceremony for best talents in Finland, and a tour of the best experiences in town – think a lunch/catwalk show at the oldest Finnish jewellery producer Kalevala, a dinner at Marimekko factory (the icon of Finnish Fashion will be celebrating 60 years of their signature flower print this year), and a drag night bingo by a local legend Anna Konda (stage name of designer Ervin Latimer behind Latimmier brand).


The main fashion show, featuring 100 looks, took place at the Helsinki Shipyard, where one of the walls of the iconic industrial space was actually holding the waters of the Baltics. They say that it took show producer and art director Minttu Vessala – or Minttu in short, best known for her stunts as a muse to Balenciaga by Demna – more than seven years to convince the authorities to put up a show here. Guests were greeted at the bottom of the dry dock (used to stock the massive icebreakers and cruise vessels) by technical workers dressed impeccably in cobalt jumpsuits and matching plastic caps.

The first one to show, Rolf Ekroth bridges traditional motifs and crafts with souvenirs of his childhood, streetwear and utility clothes. Staying true to the nation’s favourite hobby, all of his knitwear designs are also available in DIY kits for his fans to knit at home. At Ekroth, there is always a feeling of nostalgia, as well, that’s why his soundtracks are filled with hits from the ‘80s and ‘90s. For Fashion in Helsinki catwalk, he chose Niin Aikaisin by musician, actress and icon of Finnish beauty Anki Lindqvist: once you hear this powerful ballad, it will never leave your headphones.

Hedwig, founded by the creative duo Sofia Järnefelt and Taru Lahti, displayed their elegant designs in the natural palette for the very first time on the catwalk. Sofia Ilmonen, winner of the Hyères Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Award in 2021, focuses on transformable and modular garments, and teamed up with Spinnova, a Finnish producer of textiles upcycled from wood pulp and waste. Sophia’s colourful designs are crafted from square panels that can be buttoned together and are size-inclusive following the one size fits all principle.

Multidisciplinary art project Vain by Jimi Vain has a unique identity based on a gothic aesthetic, selection of best dead stock fabrics and humour. He showcased an array of their most iconic and timeless designs, styled for the occasion with mouse traps. Finally, Jenny Hytönen, the 2022 Hyères Grand Prize winner, presented a selection of her sensual and glamorous sheer pieces combining traditional hand-knitting and leathercraft with new experimental techniques featuring beads, metal thorns, bolts and needles.

Ervin Latimer, the creative mastermind behind the Latimmier brand will be showing his fifth collection in August in Copenhagen, so he took Fashion in Helsinki as an opportunity to explain his creative process and all the inspirations behind his future upcycled designs. He invited guests to one of his favourite places in town, the house and atelier of the iconic furniture designer Yrjö Kukkapuro, made out of concrete, glass and steel, just a stone’s throw away from the city centre. The designer always dives deep into sexual identities, exploring masculine vulnerability and the border between genders – in his fifth collection, he focuses on metrosexuals and science-fiction comic strips and films from the ‘60s. Stay tuned for more at CPHFW…


Aalto University’s fashion programmes are often ranked among the best in the world. A case in point: all of the local designers known globally mastered their skills here (Rolf Ekrouth is a drop-out, though) under the toughest supervision of industry insider Tuomas Laitinen (co-founder and fashion director of SSAW mag, he studied under CSM’s legend Louise Wilson, and is now based in Paris, where he teaches at Parsons). Some of them feel the need to pass on their unique know-how to the new generation of Finnish designers: Sofia Järnefelt and Ervin Latimer are both giving classes at Aalto.

This year, the graduate collections celebrated fun and chaos in fashion, which is a good sign that the industry can still make us dream. The new generation is ready to take the reins. Jere Vilo was awarded the Marimekko award for his humorous approach to consumerism culture, while the main Näytös award was given to Petra Lehtinen for her dream fashion walk in the supermarket made out of the most curious ready-made materials.


Being sustainable today is also about “FIX: Care and Repair”. During a preview of the newly-opened namesake exhibition at the Finnish Design Museum (on view until 5 January 2025), Sofia Imonen, whose vivid green dress crafted out of 11 modules is a part of the showing, explained: “My modular transformable concept is like a power that can elongate the life of your garments. The modules are always the same size and have the same structure with loops and 3D-printed buttons to assemble them. If damaged, you can easily take out one module and repair it. The same goes for cleaning. This structure also gives you freedom to rebuild your garments all over again.” The designer thinks of Ikea-inspired instructions to integrate into her selling strategy, as the DIY approach makes you even more emotionally attached to your clothes.

Usually what we see in the museums are impeccable items in excellent state, but this one-of-a-kind exhibition puts into the spotlight a new approach to curation. Here nothing is perfect: there are broken cups, mended garments, and patina on the leather boots. “FIX: Care and Repair” proves that beauty can also be found in damaged items, and shows in the most playful and practical manner how to make all of your cherished items last longer.