PEOPLEText: Victor Moreno
Since a couple of decades ago, Helsinki has experienced a gorgeous moment creatively speaking. Alvar Aalto’s homeland is not just about furniture design and I.T. anymore, but the city has become stronger in the fields of art, music, and fashion. The world has glanced up to see how the Finnish capital had something to offer us, not only to the rest of Europeans, also overseas. It is known the Finnish educational system is at the forefront worldwide. Hence a generation of well-prepared people is here to shout it out loud, and to make us think of this beautiful capital on the shores of the Baltic Sea. For instance, Helsinki Design Week is an important meeting for the industrial, graphic, fashion and furniture design, and it has become more international than ever. Furthermore, Aalto University offers one of the most solid programs not only in industrial design but most of the big fashion brands look at this program in search for new talent. Some new fashion designers have been working hard for over a decade and it was about time to pay off. Arguably, this is the case of shoe designer Minna Parikka, who went to study fashion design abroad because by then there were not the same possibilities you can find in Helsinki nowadays. Nevertheless, once graduated, she took the brave decision of staying in Helsinki to run her own fashion brand. Today her brand sells all over the world. Minna has a pretty strong profile – colorful and daring ideas on a variety of different shapes – and an innovator spirit, which characterizes her work. Celebrities of the likes of Taylor Swift, TK Wonder and Lady Gaga have been seen wearing her designs.
Minna Parikka, 2014, Photo: Kristiina Mannikko
How did you start out as a fashion designer?
I am living my teenage dream. My sister wrote an article about “Pfister” to a women’s magazine when I was 15. It was like a lightning had struck me when I realized that somebody can think about shoes all day long as a profession.
Minna Parikka S/S 2016 Collection, “Wise Monkeys”
Please tell me a bit a but your education period in the UK and also your experience working abroad.
At the age of 19 I moved to the UK to study footwear design. It was clear to me that I could not have the same education in my own country. More importantly I realized that in this business you have to be international straight from the beginning, even as a student. The best education I got was to hit all the designer stores in London on a regular basis to see what was happening in retail and fashion.
Minna Parikka S/S 2016 Collection, “Daffy3”
Fashion school TaiK in Helsinki where you were enrolled belongs to Aalto University today. Since Tuomas Laitien took over the Fashion Design program at Aalto University, seems that the institution has acquired a lot of international attention from the fashion world, probably becoming one of the most important fashion programs in Europe. Please tell me your opinion about this.
Tuomas and his strict curating has definitely done a great job in getting Helsinki on the fashion map. It is great to see so much talent coming from here that are employed by the big fashion houses and brands in Europe. Unfortunately, not that many people here start up their own brand. It is a rocky road coming from a remote place like Helsinki. You need to have a good commercial understanding as well to be able to make it.
Minna Parikka, “Bunny” for Baby, Silver
Your business has grown very well internationally.
We are currently stocked in 25 different countries. Europe and Asia are our main markets. We have managed to create a signature bunny ear style that has become an instant hit. For example, in London where we have all the big department stores like Selfridges, Harrods, Liberty and Harvey Nichols. Actually in April we will be launching our kids’ line with a BANG as we are having a pop-up at Harrods. In Tokyo we are stocked in Isetan for example.
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