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UNEINS – Carnival of Couture!

UNEINS is a brainchild of German-born designer Linda Förstner who founded the label in 2013 in Helsinki. The roots of UNEINS hail from the urban landscapes of Berlin and Helsinki but the inspiration behind the label is sourced from the Scandinavian nature and spirituality of Finnish Lapland.

The eco-luxury label UNEINS is a real delight for the lovers of innovative cuts, luxurious fabrics and expert tailoring. Not to forget sleek silhouettes and surprising accents! The designer herself calls it conscious avantgarde luxury wear.

UNEINS is a German word that means to differ, to stand out. The label’s philosophy is to offer a premium aesthetics fashion that prioritises the longevity and high aesthetics of the garments, rather than the fast cycles of an often artificial industry.

We asked the designer couple of questions and she was happy to share the story behind UNEINS with us.

 

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Photo: Anja Koppitsch

 

How did you come up with the idea behind UNEINS?

The idea of having my own brand has been there already throughout my studies, both in Germany and Finland. I have always been intrigued by the powerful bond between fashion and people. There is an emotional attachment that we develop with our wardrobe and we allow for design to reflect our personality, thoughts, memories and moods. I find this inspiring and challenging at the same time and so I wanted to create a brand that offers a balance of familiar and new, of classic and boldly avant-garde. I sought to create premium quality clothing that liberates people from passing trends, and allows them to be their own selves.

For what kind of woman are the UNEINS garments made for?

The woman wearing UNEINS is modern, creative and dresses intelligently. She believes in quality and invests in conscious consumption without compromising design aesthetics. We see UNEINS as a brand for a new generation of urban women that indulge in resolved luxury experience. Our women seek design with unique handwriting, eloquent vibe and transparent, measurable value.

 

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AW 16/17 – Solstice

The AW16 collection of UNEINS is called Solstice, an astronomical event appearing twice a year marking the lightest point of summer and the darkest of winter.

The collection continues the signature line of the label portraying glamour, elegancy and attention to details. Besides the luxurious materials the collection features flattering combinations such as soft leather and delicate flower print. The tones and materials mix together perfectly. Or what do you think about this soft wool mohair coat combined with the delicate lavender colour?

 

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Where did the inspiration for this collection come from?

Living in Finland, you become very aware of the changes in light throughout the year and this is the underlying inspiration of print and colours in the collection. The colours range from deep black, dark blue over warm brown and hints of green to light lavender and whites. The digital print of the collection twirls these extremes through a liquified graphite stone structure like a standstill time lapse. One of the core materials of the collection is shearling, a remain from the most traditional way of life during cold winters, complemented with pure mohair, printed wool and soft lamb leather.

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What’s next for UNEINS? Any interesting projects coming up?

A lot of new developments are ahead of us. We had a strong season in Berlin Fashion Week and Capsule Paris. Next is Future Labels in Seoul in mid-November. We are also joining a young and very driven Swedish showroom Anothamista for their debut of curated brand showcasing in December. Other than that, we are working on something bigger and better than we have dared tackle so far in the domain of slow fashion. But that is yet to come in the very near future, so stay tuned!

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THE WILD KING OF THE N.O. WONDER HORSES by Kuula+Jylhä 2016

Voting for uniqueness and quality?

Marika Jylhä and Essi Kuula have been friends over ten years and they have formed together with a creative footwear/studio label. Behind every collection is a beautiful story. 

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Tell about your past? How did you end up building a brand together?

We met over ten years ago at a visual arts course and we’ve been best friends ever since. We have always commented and supported each other work and at some point, we noticed that we have a very similar way of thinking about designing. Our collaboration works almost wordless. We thought that it would be great to benefit one other expertise and make handmade footwear. Essi is a master of textile designing and Marika is a footwear designer.

All of this was only a dream until the open call for exhibitors to South Korea Cheongju International Craft Biennale came along in 2011. Three pairs of our shoes were selected to the exhibit and after that, it just took off.

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How would you describe each other as friends and colleagues?

Marika is reliable, warm and just the right amount crazy. She’s a humorist who’s got hundred different funny characters in her mind.

Essi is a really sincere and a good person. She’s a pocket size funster but she’s also one of the smartest people I know.

Do you have clear responsibilities in building your brand or designing a new line?

Yes, we do. Patterns, production and usability of the shoes are Marika’s main responsibilities. Essi’s main responsibilities are in the visual identity of the brand such as photographs, graphic materials and storytelling. Of course, we plan everything and make all the decisions together.

There’s always a story behind your collection. Where does the inspiration come from?

We can find inspiration almost anywhere. Often either one of us has a tenuous idea for example from a singular surface, shape, color or theme. We gather lots of ideas into sketchbooks and scrap papers. We also eliminate a lot of ideas from our collections and some of those eliminated ideas will stay bothering in our minds. At some point we just go ahead and try ideas we got at the moment.

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How do you start working on a new collection?

The first step in our designing process is developed almost like from the basis of improvisational theatre: we throw ideas into the air and you can’t reject them right away, you have to try to develop something out of it!

It’s most productive to work together, switch sketches at some point and continue each other work. In the last step we once again cross off and eliminate ideas and that is where the collection is actually born. The stories behind the collections are our way to lead people into our world and show them where we’ve been while designing the collection.

Where did you get the inspiration for the 2016 collection?

The collection of 2016, ”The Wild King of the N.O. Wonder Horses”, was born while we accidentally found an old picture of a horse named Wonder Horse that got a really long and funny hair. It was so long that is touched the ground and we couldn’t get over it. We tried to figure out what was the story of this amazing horse and we ended up researching the history and bloodlines of wild horses. Eventually it was clear that we would have to use some horsehair in our footwear. Horsehair is unbelievably strong as a material and the horsehair used in our shoes comes from Northern Ostrobothnia.

 

Your shoes are unique, real pieces of art. If a girl buys a pair of your shoes, how many of the same pair is she likely to see on someone else?

We make small series of unique and custom-made pieces. The turnout of the series varies a lot but on average we produce twenty similar pairs of every shoe. The patterns are cut by hand and all of the materials, for example, the horsehair, are individual so in principle, every single pair is pretty unique.

How will the year 2017 look like for Kuula+Jylhä? 

For the spring we are developing sale samples from our new collection and we already have some new ideas and thoughts regarding our upcoming collection. Our main goal is to get our small footwear business going as well in Finland as international. We want to offer avant-garde footwear experiences for people all over the world.

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Pay more, buy less – FFF´s guide to ethical fashion

There`s a lot of talk about ethical clothes but what really makes a piece of clothing an ethical one? And why does it matter? FFF asked these questions from Anniina Nurmi, designer behind the sustainable clothing brand Nurmi and the creator of the website Vihreät Vaatteet which gathers information about ecological fashion and responsible consuming

Why should you buy ethical fashion?

– Today’s clothing industry is one the most twisted industries in the world. We´ve got used to get a T-shirt from a chain store that costs only an euro or two – that shouldn’t even be possible! Cheap price tells that people who have been part of manufacturing process as well as the environment have suffered for that piece of cloth.

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Why do sustainable clothes cost so much more than t-shirts and dresses from regular chain stores?

– People often ask why sustainable clothes cost more. I think the question should be reversed: why are the cheap clothes so cheap? If you want people who manufacture the clothes to get a fair wage and MINIMIZE THE IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT at same time you must be ready to pay a little more for what you’re wearing.

What makes ethical clothes ethical?

Ethical clothes are manufactured respecting humans as well as animals. Whether it´s the farmers working in the cotton field or sewers in the factories they all have received a fair compensation of their work. These workers should also have a right to have safe working conditions, unionize, and be able to actively improve their rights themselves.

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Would you describe us the ordinary manufacturing process of clothes?

– The process includes producing the material for fabrics and turning them into fabrics, dyeing, printing, cutting and sewing. Many industries today are very mechanized but production of clothes requires still a lot of hand work – there are not yet robots which could make our clothes, at least not cost-effectively.

How can I be sure that the clothes I buy are really as sustainable as they are claimed to be?

– This should be much easier for consumers than it is now. At the moment making sure that the clothing is sustainable forces one to make a lot of detective work. Clothing business should operate more transparently so consumers would know which products are really ethical.

When it comes to ethical working conditions at the moment the safest way is to trust certificates like Fair Trade certificated cotton or Fair Wear certificate even though there are downsides to certifications as well.

Many times locally produced clothes are counted as sustainable. However, problem with these clothes is usually that only the sewing part of the process is made near you. Customer should also know where the material comes from and in what kind of conditions it is produced.

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What do you think about big brands making clothing lines that are marketed as ethical?

– Well it is of course a step forward that big chain stores use ecological materials even in some of their products as even that makes a big impact because of the big volumes. However, these claimed ecological lines are usually ethical or ecological only in a superficial way. They often concentrate for example only on the material of the cloth instead of making a really ethical cloth that should cover the products whole lifecycle.

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Many might find it hard to change their consuming habits to more sustainable. Where should they start?

– A good way to start is to question do you need to buy a new garment at all. If you do, Then choose a product of high-quality that you really love and which you’ll use for years and years.

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MOIMOI way of life

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MOIMOI is a sustainable leather bags and accessories brand based in Helsinki. The brand believes in traditional craftsmanship, durable materials and clean designs. If you seek for timeless, beautiful bags and accessories for everyday use this is the right brand for you. Behind this beautiful brand is a Spanish designer Raquel Alonso Miranda.

 

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Raquel was born in Vigo, in a city east west of Spain where she also graduated as a Master of Arts. During these studies she spent one year as an exchange student in Finland. Despite all the countries with their well-known fashion capitals, how did she end up choosing Finland?

– I was studying a Master of Arts so most of the schools we could go were more Art oriented. I chose Finland because of the school that I was able to learn more about textile, clothing design and traditional techniques like weaving, dying, leather handcrafts or hats felting.

 

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MOIMOI was born as a final project but it wasn’t always clear that it would be exclusively an accessories brand.

– When I made the final study project in Barcelona I planned a clothing brand. Also the first MOIMOI collection in 2010 was accessories and clothing. After this collection I felt more comfortable making accessories and I started experimenting with leather. Finally in 2011 I launched the first only accessories collection.

Main materials used in the collections are reindeer leather from Lapland, cow leather from Spain, finnish birch wood and water based colors for the fabric printing. While studying in Finland Raquel developed a special interest in Scandinavian functional design. It all goes back to a certain exhibition at the famous Helsinki Design Week.

– I started to appreciate the clean designs when I came to Helsinki for the first time on a school trip. It was the Helsinki Design Week and I went to the Cable Factory to see a product and furniture design exhibition. I immediately liked all the simple forms and the use of wood. Later on, when I made the project in Barcelona I came back to this idea and I got the main inspiration from Scandinavian architecture and furniture design books.

 

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Raquel is the designer and the founder of MOIMOI but she hasn’t built the brand alone. Kalle Järveläinen is a co-founder and a partner of MOIMOI and together they wanted to create something tangible, something that lasts long. How did they meet?

– We met here in Helsinki at the time I was making an internship at IVANA Helsinki. Nowadays Kalle is taking care of the online presence and graphics and recently we started to design the first men bags together.

MOIMOI was established in 2010 and the brand has been slowly growing ever since. Nowadays you can find their products in shops around Finland, Spain and even in Japan. What are they working on at the moment?

– I just presented the new products for the next SS15, so production is the next step and also preparing for a promising Christmas Campaign.