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Finnish lines: the next Scandi fashion hotspot

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Meet the Finnish brands and retailers making waves in the fashion scene – as the Nordic nation emerges as a new Scandinavian style capital.

Copenhagen and Stockholm have established themselves as two of Europe’s top destinations for fresh fashion brands. Names such as Ganni, Saks Potts, WoodWood, Dagmar and Stine Goya have made Scandi style a must-have for buyers hoping to draw in shoppers. As these cities go from strength to strength, a new wave of talent is beginning to emerge from the nations’ Nordic neighbour – Finland.

With its icy climate and vast expanses of wilderness, the country has a unique aesthetic. Residents characterise Finns as sustainable, practical and minimalist in their style – attributes that chime well with current trends in the market.

Drapers rounds up a selection of brands venturing out of the market and looking to expand internationally, as well as retailers to watch from the capital Helsinki.

 

Frenn

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Helsinki-based menswear brand Frenn was founded by Jarkko Kallio and Antti Laitinen in 2013, and focuses on a relaxed aesthetic, premium quality and sustainable sourcing. The brand has its own flagship store in Helsinki, as well as 10 Finnish and seven international stockists in Germany, Japan and France.

Wholesale prices range from £16.50 for socks to £175 for a parka. +358 50 341 2887 frennhelsinki.com

Jarkko Kallio, CEO and co-founder, Frenn

How would you sum up Finnish style?

Finnish style is honest and simple without any extra detailing without any function. In Finnish fashion, function meets style.

How would you describe Frenn?

Frenn is sustainable and innovative Nordic menswear designed in Helsinki. It combines straightforward, honest Finnish design, relaxed sophistication and urban functionality with an edge. The collection is responsibly hand-manufactured in Northern Europe from premium, ecologically sourced European materials.

What are some of your key items?

The brand is known for its relaxed but premium-quality jackets and fresh Nordic print shirts.

Are there any aspects of the brand that your customers respond particularly well to?

We have our own flagship store in Helsinki, and we get feedback every day. We have had a very good response to our quality. We use only European materials from Italy, Portugal and Spain, and our linen comes from Lithuania.

We have local and responsible production in Estonia, only 80 km from Helsinki. [Co-founder] Antti often visits the factories himself and knows the women making our clothes. We are truly sustainable and transparent in our materials and production.

Do you think the fashion industry in Finland is growing?

Finnish fashion is having a new coming. There are a lot of new companies with very strong international goals that are developing their brands in a professional way.

We do it in our way, with more individual edge and style. Helsinki is now a very interesting capital in the Nordics.

 

Arela

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Founded by Maija Arela in 2006 and now headed up by Maija and her two daughters, Anni and Viivi, Arela creates luxury cashmere products in a range of unusual, eye-catching colours. The brand has 20 stockists – the three in the UK include Harvey Nichols.

Arela is launching menswear for autumn 19, with a range of relaxed, unisex knits.

Wholesale prices range from £30 for small accessories to £300 for a long coat. +358 102 398689 arelastudio.com

Q&A: Viivi Arela, communications director, Arela

How would you sum up Finnish style?

Finnish style is best described as shy quirkiness – it is a mixture of wanting and not wanting to be seen.

When did Arela launch?

Arela was born when my mother, the brand’s designer Maija Arela, fell in love with cashmere in Paris in 2006 and wanted to create her own, minimal cashmere collection. From there we – her, my sister Anni, and me – have created a brand that is best known for its considered colours, high quality and sustainability.

Are there any aspects of the brand that your customers respond particularly well to?

Our customers love the aesthetics of our brand, the quality of our materials and our sustainability. We have offered a care service for our knits since 2011 [customers can have their items washed, de-pilled, steamed and repaired in Arela stores] and that is something our customers appreciate very much.

How does Arela reflect Finnish aesthetics?

The influence of Finland can be seen in the way we make clothes that are practical and minimalist but still beautiful, presentable and well designed.

Finnish aesthetics and the special tones of the light in Finland also affect our colour choices. In our collections there are always interesting colours, but the designs are very minimalist to leave room for the personality of the wearer.

Do you think the fashion industry in Finland is growing?

Finnish fashion is having a moment – there are more and more commercially successful brands emerging.

Last November, Kämp Garden: Center for Finnish Fashion opened in the heart of Helsinki. This was a major step for the fashion scene in Finland. It is a new type of retail platform for fashion – a store space where we and 10 other Finnish brands have our flagship stores. The response has been very good, and the future for Finnish fashion looks very bright.

 

Hálo

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Hailing from Lapland in the north of Finland, womenswear brand Hálo is now based in the capital Helsinki, but takes its inspiration from the wild, rugged landscapes of the country’s northern wilderness.

Founded in 2017, the brand is gathering an international reputation – of its 20 stockists, some are as far afield as Australia and the USA. Eye-catching jacquards and silks are key in the collection, which is composed of 66 pieces in total.

Wholesale prices range from €65 (£55) for a silk top to €850 (£724) for a reindeer leather robe. Dresses average at €100 (£85). +358 40 027 6785 halofromnorth.com

 

Makia

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Founded in 2001 in Helsinki, Makia takes a minimalist, sophisticated approach to functional, outdoor attire. Founded by a group of friends seeking to reflect a Nordic mindset in their style, the brand cites practicality and sustainability as two of its key principles.

Known for outdoor gear such as durable rain macs and jackets, the brand offers a collection of around 400 pieces for men, women and children. The overall aesthetic is pared back and relaxed.

Highlights from the spring 19 collection include a rose pink women’s rain jacket, a white logo sweatshirt and a pair of red drawstring waist shorts for men.

The brand’s has expanded across 20 countries and it currently has 600 stockists: 15 in the UK including The Brokedown Palace in London’s Shoreditch and Born Store in Brighton.

Wholesale prices range from €17 (£15) for hats to €50 (£45) for jackets. +358 45 844 4077  makiaclothing.com

 

Retailers to inspire

World of Tre

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Tre is Finland’s largest retailer dedicated to Nordic designers. With a focus on luxury, sustainable brands, it currently stocks 500 Nordic names including Samuji, Marimekko and R/H.

Tre has four permanent stores in Finland – three in Helsinki and one in Äkäslompolo, Lapland. It also has stores in Korea and Japan.

Alongside traditional retail stores, the brand has a dedicated “salon” space, set up like an apartment in an art nouveau building in Helsinki. The space offers shopping via appointment only.

 

Urban a helsinki

Urban A

Based in Punavuori – part of Helsinki’s trendy Design District – independent lifestyle store Urban A specialises in minimalist and pared-back Scandinavian womenswear designs. By Malene Birger, Gauhar, Nué Notes, Stand and Totême are key brands in the store.

Founded in 2004 by Andrea Sucksdorff, the store itself is spacious and elegant, with a terracotta and cream tiled floor and minimalist wooden fittings. Alongside clothing and lifestyle items, the store sells flowers and plants from Wild Things – a florist run by Sucksdorff’s sister, Natalie.

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