Inspired by midsummer nights in the forests of Finland and ‘90s rave culture, designer Tuomas Merikoski’s Spring 2016 collection for Aalto was a youthfully quirky take on Scandinavian style. Merikoski, who also does freelance work for Louis Vuitton, chatted with W about his year old brand’s bright future.
What was the inspiration for the Spring/Summer 2016 collection?
Spring/Summer 2016 is called “Endless Sun,” because it’s based on the midsummer culture in Finland. It’s quite amazing when we celebrate midsummer because there’s no night. It’s a 24-hour party. You get out of a nightclub and the sun is up. It’s a strange moment. People have a different attitude. They’re really outgoing because of the sunlight, which you don’t get in the wintertime.
Midsummer celebrations are also something very culturally important as a Finnish tradition. It’s almost apocalyptic feeling. Everybody does big bonfires on rafts that float out in the middle of a lake, so we’ve got some fire prints and the fire Aalto logo in this collection. The clothes represent what every Finnish or Nordic person has lived. As a Finnish teenager in the ‘90s, you would drive out to your parent’s house by the lake and have friends over. You would put on some techno music or rave music. You partied. You drank. It’s a real freedom that I don’t think my own kids will have in Paris or in a big city.
We’ve also been looking to ‘90s rave parties. When the rave parties started in Finland, they had a different life than in London or New York because they were by the lakes in the forest. It was a mix of vintage clothing and a more organic, hippie feeling. The collection is based on youth and the freedom of Finland, but also the culture and all the extremes that exist there. There’s the landscape and the colors and the presence of nature, but then also a 24-hour party.
What’s it like being a new designer going into his second year? How do you keep the momentum going?
You have a different perspective because you don’t have a clean table anymore. You’ve done stuff and have a past. We’re in the process of establishing dress codes, but at the same time it’s a question of how we make it new and different again. I believe though if the base is well done, then you can move forward.
How would you describe “wearable” clothes?
Comfort is super important. As a Scandinavian label, functionality is also important. For me, the first thing is the material and then the cut. Even if it’s slim-fitting, it has to be easy to move in. It has to be a long lasting product. We tend to do things that you can wash in machines.
Where do you see the brand headed in the next year or so?
I would like to open a flagship store in the next few years, probably in Paris. Our concept is purely that we want to bring Finnish design and cool Finnish aesthetics to an international audience.