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

Why menswear?

Menswear is a starting point and one frame for my design. I like simple garments and wardrobe. Menswear is full of small details and meanings. It is often dictated by subtle changes and anecdotes. I like to make sense of combining this with big and loud in my design approach. The result is often striking and quite gender free.

What drew you towards fashion design? Do you have other ambitions career-wise? Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

My background is in photography. I studied it for three years and worked with photographers before starting the fashion studies. My ambitions have always been to find my own place working in the visual and design career fields. Fashion studies felt like an interesting way to express myself. Fashion design is a multilevel profession; to be good in it requires many skills and talents to master such a diverse combination of processes. I discovered this in my studies and it both surprised and hooked me.

Your collection is highly visual, approaching the concept of contemporary art. What is the ideology in your design work?

I am quite a free-minded designer. The ideology in my design process is to study different sorts of subjects and themes from my cultural environment. The concepts behind the collections are my comments of the world around me; I like to make statements and challenge traditional menswear.

After only a few years with your own brand, you have already achieved a semi-finalist position in the prestigious LVMH contest, exhibited at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in Stockholm and stocked at London’s forward-thinking Machine-A. What’s your secret? What does it take nowadays to make it as a designer?

I think one has to be active. Waiting for the opportunities to come to you does not work. It is important to move on, gain experience and make a network. I think I have been also very lucky and a bit crazy.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your process of designing? From what kind of elements do you build the bases of a new collection? Do you sketch a lot for example or take a lot of pictures?

I got a fair share of education in how to research during my MA and I still think it is the most crucial element in fashion design. My research involves building a world and a character based on different topics. From a solid research footing, I sketch a lot and also work with fabric development. I design all my prints and that is the most expressive part of the process.

It is easier to start a fashion label these days and the variety of choices for a consumer is immense. Do you feel a pressure of the competition as a designer? Do you think that it’s easier or harder being a fashion designer now than twenty years ago?

What I have understood from my older and wiser peers is that yes, the fashion industry has changed greatly but it has always been in a state of change. I think problems and challenges are always there but their nature changes. I do compare my label with other young labels but also with older companies, especially regarding how they managed things when they were growing. There is competition of course because it is a business but as a designer I don’t feel so much pressure. Everyone is making their own thing in their own way.

What are your thoughts on the pace of fashion nowadays? Does it suit you?

The fast pace of fashion is overwhelming but I do not feel very much pressure because I don’t see myself in those wheels anyway. In today’s competitive industry, one can succeed by building a sustainable business and still avoiding stupid shortcuts. I try to work as effectively as possible but building a label requires nerve, it is not build in one day.

Are you interested in combining technology and fashion?

Hahaha. I am interested in everything but time and resources are luckily against doing everything. However I would love to collaborate with other fields than fashion when there is an opportunity.

How do you see the future of fashion?

I see it as interesting, that fashion is a way to understand the changing world but also a way to see and understand the past. I don’t try to guess how fashion will look in 2030 etc. because I prefer to observe and learn from it as it happens.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I hope that I will have managed to build the label to be successful enough that I will be able make meaningful high-quality designs with diverse people and also help young talents.

 

All the looks by MANNISTO

mannisto.co

Pictures Eeva Suutari 

Model Iida L. @fashionworries

Make up Keiku Borgström

Hair Meron Laine