Interview: Emmakaisa Soisalo on Nordic fashion

Aini Putkonen interviews Emmakaisa Soisalo from Marimekko to figure out what Nordic fashion is really about

Photo: Marimekko

When thinking about Finnish fashion, undoubtedly, Marimekko is one of the first brands that comes in mind. Founded in 1951, it is one of the most iconic Finnish design houses. This week we had a chance to interview Emmakaisa Soisalo, the Design and Product Development Manager and Designer at Marimekko. She works under the creative director Anna Teurnell and helps in constructing the collections for Marimekko with the creative director, as well as helping with supply and product development. We asked her what Nordic fashion and designing for a Nordic design house is like.

How would you describe Nordic fashion?
Practicality is one of the key elements of Nordic fashion and design. It is also often associated with minimalism. In general, nature is a great source of inspiration for Nordic designers. For instance, Maija Isola’s 60-year-old Kivet [Marimekko’s iconic print, the name meaning ‘stones’ in Finnish] was inspired by the stones on the yard of the designer herself.

Who would you identify as the Scandinavian fashion icons?
Being a fashion icon means a lot more than clothes for me. The Nordic designer Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi and the artist Tove Jansson are especially interesting characters, who have always had their own aesthetics.

How does Nordic fashion differ from fashion around the world?
Nordic countries have four distinct seasons, which create endless possibilities for design. The winters are long and fashion needs to be practical, which makes people want to play with and add colour to their lives when the summer comes. This is in line with Marimekko’s design philosophy, which emphasises practicality and the beauty of the everyday. Since the founding of the company, Marimekko has tried to bring joy and colour to the everyday lives of people.

How popular is Nordic fashion in the international market? How will this situation evolve in the future?
Nordic and Finnish fashion are gaining international attention. For instance, Japan has had Marimekko’s biggest market share after Finland for a while now and Nordic design has been very popular there. In addition to Marimekko, Samu-Jussi Koski’s Samuji and Tuomas Merikoski’s Aalto have gained a lot of international attention. I believe that the position of Nordic and Finnish design in the international marketplace will strengthen even further in the future.

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Does Marimekko take into account the international audience in fashion design and product development, or is the intended customer base mainly the Nordic region?
Even though Marimekko is heavily a Finnish design company, we do take into account the needs of our international customers in design. Especially due to the globalisation of the previous years, we have developed our collections to take into account the needs and wishes of our international and domestic customers even better.

What is currently your favourite trend?
A perfectly fitted trench coat and a parka are always on the top of my list of favourite trends. I am also always willing to invest in a simple patterned dress. As the spring comes, kaftans are easy and beautiful pieces of clothing, which are suitable for many occasions.