Helsinki Card
Helsinki Card

The ‘IT’ Factor

20.10.2015 Text: Violetta Teetor Photos: Jussi Ratilainen
Minna Parikka

Finns may be shy to speak but when it comes to design, their boldness holds no bounds.

Just look at Marimekko. Stepping out from the dull blacks and greys that are so prevalent, it was Vuokko Nurmesniemi and Maija Isola that brought colour into the lives of Finns with their simple lines and flower motifs in the 60’s. It’s a success story that has spread to the US and Canada totalling 84 stores globally. Even Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City has worn their garments. Locate your shop here:

Marimekko (c) Jussi Hellsten / Visit Helsinki
Marimekko (c) Jussi Hellsten / Visit Helsinki

And while we’re on the subject of bold, ONAR (meaning ‘dream’ in ancient Greek) is making their presence felt not only in the Anthology of Finnish Fashion exhibition at the Design Museum but also in Opening Ceremony in New York and LA, in Russia and Scandinavia House. Their latest contribution to elegance is the Ofra collar, made out of sheared Merino wool from Italy and dyed in the most striking of two tones softly wrapping around your neck to keep out those autumnal chills. Irene Kostas, founder and designer, boasts two nationalities, Finnish and Greek and brings together the classic minimalism of the one blending with the mysticism of the other. All of their fur and leather come from existing materials. Nothing is farmed and some is even recycled. The online shop is here:

The catwalks of the Copenhagen Fashion Week are proud to present 2OR+BYAT. Confused? Understandably so, but from designer Yat’s own mouth it simply (I beg to differ) means that two elements (or more!) are required to create or evolve in nature and his unconventional cuts, innovative fabrics and contrasts in design speak a language of their own. He too has two nationalities to draw his inspiration from, Japan and Finland of course. His garments are intriguing but always wearable and it’s this combination that brings the older lady wearing one of his flowing numbers into his flagship store on Eerikinkatu in Helsinki asking for something that her grandchild might like to slip into. Webshop is here:

Shopping & Fashion - Ivana Helsinki

Love stories, road trips and wild fantasy give Paola Suhonen a kick. Designer, filmmaker, artist and founder of Ivana Helsinki, she brings out collections that speak tales of romance, barren landscapes and rich intrigue. Her Rotterdam  collection is about Scandinavian melancholy embodied in lacy dresses and bold prints reminiscent of the 60’s. It goes like this: She saw a photo of her uncle at Rotterdam harbour. He, like the other sailors, was headed for Finland and home but the sea was frozen over and they needed to be patient. They spent their time drinking whisky in bars and ogling pin-up girls. Moomin on the other hand is playful and innocent with none of the brooding of the other. It’s full of blue and princess lines with fabric in abundance. Her boutique in Helsinki is on Iso Roobertinkatu and there’s an online one too:

Shopping & Fashion in Helsinki / Minna Parikka

“Little details are what matter the most”, says textile designer Susanna Sivonen who has secured a place for herself amongst the 23 selected designers at the ‘Young Designers – a glimpse of the future at Formex’, a meeting place for new products, business opportunities, trends, knowledge and inspiration in the interiors industry at Stockholmsmässan. Her cute and colourful designs for kids’ clothing at Metsola has caught the attention of Finlayson, bed linen and towel manufacturers, as well as organisers of the Barents Convention 2015, the visual design for which she was responsible.  Her products can be found online:

A story on Finnish designers that have made it big abroad cannot be complete without mentioning Minna Parikka. Among her fans are Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Beth Ditto, Paloma Faith, Oksana, Cara Delevinge et. al. There’s always a smile on Minna’s face and no wonder since her Alice-in-Wonderland shoes are all about bunnies, comics, colours and craziness which tells us she’s having a whole truck-load full of fun making them. Her shop is on Aleksanterinkatu but there’s also an online outlet at


Samuji is where the creations of Samu-Jussi Koski are on show and for sale. His simple, chic girly yet elegant outfits can be found in stockists ranging from his own flagship store on Northern Esplanade to the US, Hong Kong and China. Here’s a list:

It only goes to show, if you have the ‘It’ factor you don’t even need to say a lot, the ultimate goal is to be brave enough to put it out there and to be able to cope with the global consequences of heaps of talent. The Finnish designers got this a long time ago.  

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