Finnish fashion scene (at least according to Helsingin Sanomat) has been buzzing. We had four people, three collections in the finale of Hyéres Fashion Festival 2015. Super! I knew that they were in the finale but hadn’t seen the images of the collections until today in the aforementioned/linked Helsingin Sanomat article. The writer, Sami Sykkö, wrote rather brilliantly about the festival and gave commentary about Finnish fashion (hah) industry and the challenges it is facing (all the challenges, BTW, brought on by the industry itself).
Anyhoo, back to the finale. I can understand why these collections made it to the final round. The clothes were colourful and the designers had used tons of different techniques. Finnish fashion design used to be about screenprinted A-line skirts and T-shirts, mainly because designers over here don’t have access to good fabric stores and these collections are breaking the stereotype of Finnish/Scandinavian design:
However herein lies the problem. It’s great that fashion students have learned layering and pattern mixing. Moving away from the one dimensionality. These looks are very different what designers in Finland are offering right now, which is a good thing BUT what they have forgotten that we don’t live in a bubble, there’s a whole industry out there. An industry, that in the same time is about looking for a new thing and offering consumers what they want now. And these collections are not now. They are not fresh. Fresh in Finland, yes, but this Ukrainian Ann Demeulemeester-look is not current. It’s good for a designer to have their own vision but they should be using that vision to interpret the culture and times people are living now. If you look at the winning collection by Annelie Schubert:
You can see the collection is sophisticated. There are layers, there are textures but they are not fighting with each other. The silhouette is current and the overall vibe is a nod to 90s Calvin Klein and Donna Karan. And what is the very decade every design disciple is drawing from as inspiration?
Anyway, I’m happy that there were so many Finnish finalists. Finnish fashion industry has a long way to go still but at least designers are not to be faulted with the slow development. I DO have one beef though…The way Sami Sykkö reported this, it gave an impression that our three finalists were selected because they were Finnish. It makes mockery of the entire industry and the history of art & design. And art & design do not have a nationality. Sure, the nationality of the designers might explain/influence the form but it’s not the end all and be all. Although this is not only Sami Sykkö’s sin. It can be seen in any kind of reporting about Finnish people making it out there. Not ever they write that person is making it because he or she is good at what she does. No, they are always good because they are Finnish.