As part of his plan to show Americans that there’s more to Finnish fashion than Marimekko, the founders of five Finnish sustainable fashion brands have landed in New York.
Emerging companies – Nomen Nescio, Terhi Polkki, Halo, Lovia and Myssyfarmi – are all part of Finland’s fashion accelerator. According to Tero Kuittinen, who organized the fashion program with the organization.
Reached in Manhattan, Kuittinen previously led Business Finland’s virtual reality accelerator program in New York before turning to fashion. All of Finland’s 100 VR companies received government funding in their early days to create a new industry and put the country at the center of VR development, he noted. “It’s a national priority to help grow businesses with taxpayer dollars,” he said. “Finland doesn’t have a Silicon Valley. Finland is too small to have a massive venture capital industry, so the government is stepping in to help start-up companies. After that, they are alone. The free market decides who is the winner and who is the loser.
After the pandemic hit, Business Finland launched a remote fashion acceleration program as designers and founders could not travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Finnish government has appointed Elissa Bloom, who ran the Philadelphia Fashion Accelerator, to lead the US program. In addition to helping Finnish brands break into national retailers, Brown helped three of the companies organize Manhattan showroom representation and connected them with industry authorities for advice. on prices and positioning.
As a sign of confidence in Finnish fashion, the Consul General of Finland, Mika Koskinen, is hosting a press dinner on Wednesday to spotlight the five founders of Finland’s sustainable fashion brands. Sustainability is a “huge” priority for the Finnish government, Kuittinen said, adding that the five brands are considered the most international of Finland’s small and medium-sized start-ups.
The garment industry in Finland employs around 2,000 people, excluding retail workers. The country’s textile industry has about 8,000 workers in the country, according to a report by Flanders Investment & Trade.
As for what other governments could learn from this venture, Kuittinen pointed to the focus on sustainable fashion. “If we’re going to move to a more sustainable economy, that can only happen if the government shapes the industries in a certain way. I know it’s taboo in America to say that government should shape the direction of an industry. But in Scandinavia it’s a no-brainer,” Kuittinen said.
Myssyfarmi, for example, uses only discarded wool and sells its hats in 15 countries. The brand uses a group of retired grandmothers to knit its hats and accessories, known as “Myssy Grannies”. Having launched her company in 2011, Polkki relies on natural, non-metallic dyes for her clogs, which are now offered in Anthropologie. Its shoes are designed in Helsinki and made in Portugal.
Now in its eighth year of business, Lovia produces handbags that reuse leather from discarded sofas. Nomen Nescio is a collection of minimalist, gender-neutral black clothing, made from sustainable materials and produced by responsible producers in Europe.
Halo is based in Helsinki and is inspired by the wild nature of Lapland, including the arctic light. The company hired actress Laura Birn, who plays an icy administrative boss of a galactic empire in Apple’s “Foundation” series, to model the brand.
With the exception of Nomen Nescio and Lovia, the three other labels will be represented this weekend at Designers + Agents. There will be a pop-up store for Nomen Nescio at the Finnish Cultural Institute on Bond Street until Friday.
This batch of Finnish brands has its own interesting stories. Myssfarmi uses grandmothers aged 70 or over to knit its organic knit beanies to change the workplace. The personal stories of these women are highlighted on the company’s website, and each puts her signature on the hats she makes. “They’re part of the product,” Kuittinen said.