Interview by Mia Dillemuth | Pictures by Eeva Suutari | Copy Editing Matthew Jones

What originally draw your interest towards men’s fashion? Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Menswear has always felt more natural for me and it fits better with my aesthetics. I have a background in tailoring and studied classical menswear before applying to study fashion design in Aalto University. At first my interest was in the garment itself, the interest in fashion came later when I advanced with my tailoring studies.

Menswear lost a lot of its extravaganza in the modern era when utility and practicality became almost virtues. It seems that men’s fashion is now reborn in some way. Many of the ‘rules’ of dressing have been broken again. Masculinity no longer excludes decorativeness. What is your opinion on this matter?

A certain formality in menswear has become less important, allowing more freedom for self-expression. It’s very nice that there is more variation, since dressing up and fashion should be fun.

On the other hand the rules inside the garment are very interesting: what detail is considered traditional to menswear and so on. Bending these rules is also one of the reasons that designing menswear is so appealing to me.

For a couple of years now we have seen a more unisex take on fashion. Gender has become a footnote; individualism arises. Do you see this as a breaking point in fashion design, does it have a deeper meaning, or is it just another way of marketing?

It’s definitely more than just a trend, even though business thinking is usually involved there. I think the growth of gender-fluid fashion is a reflection of the society, since the importance of gender and the roles they bear are not as prominent as they have been in the past. Already some fashion houses have combined their men’s and women’s shows and present them as one collection. I think it’s a very natural thing to do.

There is also a shift in the male silhouette. Historical references are appearing in menswear. Your designs offer more variety in the shape of clothes usually offered for men. Can you tell us a little bit about your design philosophy?

I’m a rather technical designer, I like to geek a lot about structures and details. There is much to learn from the history of making clothing, so many skills and techniques that are almost forgotten with the passing generations. It’s also super fascinating to study how a flat surface turns into a 3d shape and how these shapes react and move on a human body. Even with an unusual shape, I think that a garment still needs to be understandable and wearable.

Are you working on other projects besides designing clothes?

This year I designed my first furniture piece, a concrete stool, which is now exhibited in Helsinki Design Museum as a part of Aalto-university’s Colour and Material Led Design. I never thought I would exhibit a furniture piece, let alone one made out of concrete. It was a very nice project, I learned new things and had lots of fun with it. I have been interested in creating discussion between clothes and other objects – ceramics, for example – and this project was good fuel for the thought.

Recently I also designed and styled costumes for a theater production and for an independent short film. Even though these were clothing-related projects, the approach was completely different from fashion design. I found it very refreshing to have the opportunity to step inside someone else’s inner world.

Is there anyone with whom you would like to collaborate in the future?

With my previous collection I collaborated with textile designer Lotta Paananen, she designed three woven textiles for the collection. We worked well together; colours became our common language. So if there were a chance it would be nice to work together again. But for now there are no set plans.

Do you follow the contemporary art scene? Where do you get your inspiration?

In general I’m very drawn towards Asian cultures and I find there many inspirational subjects, both traditional and modern. For example, for my BA collection I drew inspiration from my experiences living in Seoul, South Korea, where I studied for one year as an exchange student.

Lately I have been researching Japanese contemporary art. I find the thoughts of the post-war Gutai Group very interesting; they talk about the relation of spirit and material and about the process being as important as the end result. From more recent art, Tabaimo’s animation installations are very inspiring, how she is combining traditional elements to modern settings. I still haven’t seen her works in person though, but I’ve heard that they are very impressive with their big settings.

You have a very distinguished eye for colours. What do they represent to you?

Colours have always been important for me and I work very intuitively with them. With the combination of colours I feel like I’m creating small worlds or other dimensions. Sometimes I find around me objects, pictures or landscapes that are almost ready-made combinations. The evening sky is an endless source of colour inspiration for me.

I often have kind of a colour season, a colour I obsess about. For a quite long time it was pastel colours and turquoise, but lately I have been somehow noticing everything orange around me. It might be my next obsession, we’ll see.

What are your dreams career wise? What next?

First I should finish my Master studies in Aalto, which I started this year. What comes after I am not sure yet, but I have set my mind on looking for work outside Finland.

All the looks by Havina Jäntti

Woven textile collaboration with Lotta Paananen