A very special Finnish Designer returns to her roots
Finnish national brands are beginning to make an appearance at fashion weeks, and several young Finnish designers have landed jobs at international fashion houses. And many never come back, not so Anna Huoviala who returned to Finland more than three years ago
After working in Sweden for many years at the clothing companies Tiger of Sweden and H &M, the Finnish clothing company Seppälä hired Huonviala as a permanent designer in November 2010. She is a Finnish clothing designer born in 1980 and a graduate of the School of Art and Design in Helsinki (SF). Seppälä is a Finnish clothing company founded in 1930.
Huoviala states: I see a lot of potential for development in Seppälä. The majority of designers who end up working in Finland often establish their own design brand. At this point, I am more interested in being part of a larger entity. My strengths are spotting trends and commercialising them.”
Finnish clothing design is experiencing such a global boom that it is, so Huoviala, it is difficult to identify unifying characteristics in Finnish design. At one time, we might have spoken about original Finnish prints. There might be a typical colour scheme in Finnish design, but not to the same extent as there used to be. A higher than average number of designers, value ethical materials and work methods. Here in Finland, there is more talk of sustainable production than there is, for example in Sweden. For Huoviala, working abroad was never a conscious choice. She ended up taking an internship at a print studio in Paris. I then realised, that it was easy to go and work abroad. Although I had never been especially career conscious, I was aware that there were more job opportunities abroad.
She made her way to Tiger through an international programme for graduates. She had to apply for the job, but the programme offered a hiring subsidy. After her internship, she stayed on at Tiger as a maternity-leave substitute, working there for a year. She stated: I really enjoyed working at Tiger, but H&M gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge. I only wanted to design, and H&M had an interesting job opportunity.
The Finnish designer soon found herself creating a line of maternity wear, youth apparel and jeans for H&M. And she is still on the same path today. Seppälä’s new denim clothing line launched at the beginning of February 2014 is largely Huoviala’s creation.
However, Huoviala’s best recollection from her career, these are the individual products she designed. She specifies: The work involves a good deal of analysing, but naturally also the joy of being creative,. I once designed a striped sweater for Tiger. I nearly lost my faith on that one. The sample piece was the wrong quality, and the first version of it was terrible, but the product manager believed in the product. I later saw the sweater on a friend of mine in Helsinki, and it looked really nice. I still like it. Laughingly she adds: Maybe I still have a lot of career highlights ahead of me. Of course, I have held on some clothing I designed a really long time ago. After all, a good product will always be a good product!