Finnish Fashion Design in New York – Featured Designer Maija Komulainen
Finland is known globally for its Nordic design, technology and architecture. When it comes to Finnish fashion and textile industry, Marimekko may still be one of the most well known Finnish brands.
However, over the past few years, several young Finnish fashion designers have achieved international acclaim for their work.
In April 2016, Hanne Jurmu and Anton Vartiainen were awarded the Chloé Prize at the International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères, France, where Finnish designers and Aalto university graduates have been competing successfully in the recent years.
Maija Komulainen is another exciting Finnish fashion design professional with an international career. At the age of 20, she moved to London from Helsinki and then onwards to another fashion capital; New York.
“I studied at Aalto University in Helsinki. As a part of my bachelor degree, I took exchange studies at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in London for three months. During my studies, I applied for a position at Hussein Chalayan as a designer. I got the job, and thus London became my home for the next nine years,” Maija explains.
In 2007, he next step for Maija’s career was a move to New York, where Maija was invited (by Francisco Costa) to design the runway for Calvin Klein Collection womenswear. After seven years, in the autumn of 2014, new challenges were waiting for Maija at Alexander Wang, as a Design Director for women’s ready-to-wear collections. Maija’s career has been quite a success story. The talents of the Finnish lady are appreciated internationally.
You have lived abroad for a long time, and you have put your mark on the collections of several internationally known fashion houses. From a designer’s point of view, how does New York differ from Helsinki as a working environment?
“I would summarize the difference like this: in Helsinki, you can feel a little bit left out of what is happening in the world, whereas in New York, you sometimes have to try to block out everything that is going on around you.”
You have had an amazing career on the global fashion scene. What kind of dreams and plans do you have for the future?
“I have two children and my priority is to be a good role model to them – just like my own parents have been to me with their optimistic and determined attitude.”
“I want to take the same mind-set and work towards making the world a slightly better place”