The Finnish capital is a city with great style credentials. Designated as World Design Capital in 2012, Helsinki’s trendy and attractive character comes from its pocket-size and hip neighbourhood. A creative hub of 25 streets within walking distance, or by tram, offers local designer discoveries and fashion jewels from contemporary design to vintage from minimalistic style to street cool.
Satu Vuorio, Finnish homewear designer and founder of SAARA who’s made Hong Kong her home shares her favourite top 10 no, top 11 boutiques in Helsinki at the in-vogue Freda and Aleksi areas so you know where to go for some serious shopping.
ANNA RUOHONEN PARIS
Anna Ruohonen is Finland’s latest fashion sensation. After several years of success in Paris, AR Blue line, her ready-to-wear collection, and a new shop in a new location were launched in Finland earlier in the spring. Entirely produced in Finland, the bamboo-jersey based casual line looks timeless, forming the essential base of one’s wardrobe. Anna’s design principals are simple: the forms are architectural, the cuts are considered, and simplicity is intentional, much like her acclaimed and rewarded store in Paris. We fell in love with the wrap-around dress – just the right mix of style & comfort. Tres chic!
ANNA RUOHONEN PARIS Concept store, Annankatu 13, www.annaruohonen.com
R/H Store windows greet us with flowery HEI (hello in Finnish). Inside we smile at quirky prints and feminine cuts that tell of playful minds of the designer pair Hanna Riiheläinen (R) and Emilia Hernesniemi (H) whose good-humoured designs appeal to the city’s fashion savvy shoppers. Some of their latest collection, dubbed as Black Waves, especially the all-black silhouettes with zippers and the hand print, attract an artistic eye with a dash of black magic – still light and easy to wear. Show-off minimalism!
R/H STORE, Fredrikinkatu 18, www.rh-studio.fi
Opened in 2000, Liike has been seen as a window to a brave new-wave of contemporary Finnish design for men and women, something that it has achieved in style. Collections are shown as designers would like to show them. You are likely to meet one of the eight designers in the shop too as they all take turns in the store. We met Johanna Vainio, one of the Liike founders, just to find out that we actually were classmates at UIAH many years ago. Designers/Brands are Liike; Camilla Mikama, Frenn, Jaana Haaksiluoto, Marita Huurinainen, Nomen Nescio, Tikit, Vainio Seitsonen, Miun. With this many awesome designers in one store, its easily the place to find that chiffon dress or new-shape coat each season.
LIIKE, Fredrikinkatu 24, www.liike-shop.com
What could be more uplifting than Minna Parikka’s bunny-ear shoes? Naughty or nice, you decide, but Minna’s shoes are always fun and bold – that is Minna’s trademark. Her cheeky candy shoes have graced the feet of many famous people including Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Paloma Faith and Beth Ditto. In Finland, she even has her very own first class postage stamp! Minna’s colourful, handcrafted and eloquent shoes, boots, silk scarves and gloves in just as eloquent street-level store are each a must-see to capture a taste of Finnish cheekiness.
MINNA PARIKKA UNIVERSUM, Aleksanterinkatu 36, www.minnaparikka.com
Established to introduce emerging home-grown designers and unique international brands for him and her, Acolyth has also excelled as an art space showcasing works from young Helsinki-based artists. Something that goes very well with its clothing theme – funky, graphical and über-cool street fashion. It is a tiny shop that seems to fit much inside its walls. Designers stocked include Daniel Palillo, Liisa Riski, Marios, gTie, Teemu Keisteri, Kowtow, Annea Lounatvuori to list a few.
ACOLYTH, Fredrikinkatu 24, www.acolyth.com
New romantics everywhere, two-storey Ivana Helsinki is your address for the oh-so-pretty cotton and woollen dresses. Designed by Helsinki-born Paola Suhonen – widely recognised as one of the designer stars to follow – clothes and accessories here carry a spirit of Northern oddity, pure beauty and wildwood vagabonds, and cheerful colours, lots of them. Paola’s diverse artistic background is evident in the prints, graphics and films she creates; cleverly combining her bold mind-scapes and wit. All knits are manufactured in Finland; unique pieces and small-series production is done at Ivana Helsinki atelier, hand knits in Lapland.
IVANA HELSINKI, Uudenmaankatu 15, www.ivanahelsinki.com
An array of lovely shades of neutrals – including the autumn’s favourite shade of grey, quality materials and easy shapes herald Samuji designs. Delicate shirt prints have a certain Asian flare but the overall look and style is very Finnish, go-anywhere fashion. There is something refreshingly straightforward about the Samuji silhouettes. With two lines, Samuji Classic and Samuji Seasonal, the design house has quickly made it to of the leading young fashion and lifestyle brands in Finland. The design house has a flagship store on Pohjoisesplanadi 37 but we would recommend the Erottaja one for their extensive women, men and homeware.
SAMUJI EROTTAJA, Erottajankatu 9, www.samuji.com
Red Shoe is a classic; it is infact the oldest shoe spot in town that carries impeccable, tailored women’s shoes and matching handbags from Italy. Satu Lassila, is in charge of creation and manufacturing. She works only with small family-operated factories to ensure their own-label footwear is made in highest standards. Her simple goal is to produce elegant, well fitting, comfortable-to-walk and wear-all-day-long footwear that’s stylish and fashionable. And no they don’t just sell red shoes!
RED SHOE, Fredrikinkatu 45, www.redshoe.fi
Minimalistic marries ethnic style at Dots.: it is all in harmony at Nordic multi-brand store Dots in two floors. This two-storey Nordic multi-brand store is best know for their sheer summer dresses and luxurious ultra-thin cashmere that don’t cost an arm and a leg. The store carries the full range of Edblad on the ground floor and the second floor, a carefully curated range of fashion and lifestyle items from a wide range of brands. This is the place that locals go to for Mos Mosh jeans (a cult jeans brand on the rise).
DOTS…, Fredrikinkatu 34, www.dots.fi
Get into the spirit of a new fashion season with a well curated collection of designer shoes, bags by two sisters, Nina Kurkinen and Pinka Hämäläinen at Nina’s. The service in this store is amazing as staffs are passionate about helping you find the perfect shoe or bag for you. Its just one of the reasons why Nina’s is frequented by local and foreign fashionistas alike because they understand its the smallest of details that make the biggest difference in bringing out the best in every woman.
NINA’S, Bulevardi 13, www.ninas.fi
There is something fresh and sweet, and distinctly Finnish, in the textile products at Kauniste that have proved popular in their homeland as well as overseas. Design team of young talents, some still studying showcases their illustration work at Kauniste. They paint, draw and paper cut adorable patterns that are transformed into timeless textiles using traditional manufacturing techniques. Palette of paint box brights on snow white dominates not only the designs but also the Freda showroom.
KAUNISTE, Fredrikinkatu 24, www.kauniste.com