Ensæmble is the love child of Finnish-Belgian-Russian ambition and curiosity. The Helsinki brand was established in 2011 and is based in Helsinki, but its fan base extends to Japan, Russia and Holland. The name is a mix of “ensemble”— representing a firm belief that collaboration is both a requirement and a source of inspiration—and the initials of the label’s two Finnish designers Alisa Närvänen and Elina Peltonen. Here, they answer our questions.
How did growing up in Finland influence your aesthetic? Elina was born in Finland, but Alisa grew up in Karelia, Russia. Having both Finnish and Russian backgrounds naturally affects aesthetic preferences. Of course, we are influenced by things beyond our borders, but there is without a doubt a certain Finnish aesthetic, which mixes with Karelian roughness, and both cultures are strongly influenced by nature.
Do you think there is there a distinct Finnish aesthetic? Fashion in Finland is a very new phenomenon. When talking about style, the Finnish one is very hard to lock into one particular category. There are many different styles that are very much driven by an artistic approach when comparing e.g. to other Scandinavian fashion, which is flourishing business-wise.
What’s your favorite thing about being based in Finland? We do enjoy the outsider perspective on things.
Do you have a favorite Finnish designer? Heikki Salonen.
Who is your favorite international designer? Vetements
Meet Finland’s Rising Fashion Stars
“Finland is not a land of high glamour. My clothes are usually based on functional garments like workwear and military uniforms.”
“We live between Russia and Sweden. I can see influences coming from both Slavic and western cultures, which makes it quite different from what you see elsewhere.”
“I grew up surrounded by Marimekko curtains and table wear, using Fiskars scissors and drinking from Iittala glasses. In away you could not help it how you got influenced by the iconic Finnish design from the golden ages.”
“Of course we are influenced by things beyond our borders too, but there is without a doubt a certain Finnish aesthetic which mixes with Karelian roughness and both cultures are strongly influenced by nature. “
“Finland is evident in everything I do, but not necessarily very noticeably. It’s sort of a national feeling of a pacifist.”
“Samuji aims to create functional, sustainable design—items that serve a purpose and yet carry a story.”
“Finland is so far away from fashion capitals that you are able to perceive fashion from an outsider’s perspective.”
R/H “Finnish people are naturally good at individualism because of our lone wolf kind of mentality.”
Hair and make-up by Emilie Tuuminen. Model: Stephanie Cook at Brand Model Management.
Photos by Chris Vidal Tenomaa, styled by Maija Sallinen. Hair and make-up by Emilie Tuuminen. Model: Stephanie Cook at Brand Model Management.