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TEIJA is all about detail

TEIJA design stands out due to its attention to detail.TEIJA

The London-based Finnish designer Teija Eilola has been away from her birthland for almost two decades, yet still carries and spreads the Nordic spirit in her fashion.

On the phone, Teija Eilola keeps slipping in English words. Identity, straightforward, aim high, production scale – she’s speaking Finnish, but at times it’s a struggle to relocate specific terms.

No wonder: she’s been living in the UK for almost 20 years, ever since her late teens. During her undergraduate studies she spend a year in France, but London’s been her home for a long time now.

“It’s not that I didn’t like the idea of moving back to Finland,” she notes. “It’s just that there’s always been work available here.”

Eilola has indeed kept herself busy after finishing her two-year master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. Having worked for and with various companies, including the likes of Michiko Koshino, throughout her career, four years ago Eilola decided to create her own very own brand.

The thought had been simmering in the back of her mind for a long time, but the final push was the Fashion Fringe competition. Being among the final three, Eilola suddenly had a place in a mentoring program, support, funding for completing the collection in the making and exhibition space. Looking back on it, it was like a three-month business course.

“When it ended, I had to stand on my own two feet,” she reminiscences. “I remember feeling pretty scared; for years I’d been working for others, and then I had to start contemplating the identity and existence of my own brand. The moment you start your own brand you feel all self-confident, but then the doubts hit you!”

Details make all the difference

After careful consideration and battling with insecurities, TEIJA items were seen in its first fashion show. Suddenly Eilola had three stores selling her products: one in Hong Kong, one in Tokyo and one in London.

“That was really encouraging, on top of all the private customers,” she recalls.

Since then, her global scope has grown a lot broader. Currently TEIJA collections are for sale in about 60 stores worldwide, including France, the US, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Japan and Korea.

TEIJA design stands out in these diverse landscapes due to its attention to detail. Eilola admires atelier-style production and careful, even labour-intensive techniques.

“Some of the techniques can require plenty of work, but they make a real difference in the end product.”

Eilola has never been afraid of hands-on work, as sewing and designing have been integral parts of her life. This is thanks to her childhood, as her mother was keen on clothes, too. As early as at the age of eight, she said she wanted to become a fashion designer.

Finland not forgotten

Eilola, despite being taught and trained abroad, still carries Finland in her work. She calls the style of the cuts in her designs “Nordic minimalistic”. She also points out how practicality and high quality have always been appreciated in Finland: Finns aren’t fond of the overly fancy.

“I like keeping my design relaxed. Although the products are sold in design boutiques, they don’t need to be evening dresses; instead, you can wear them in the office.”

She also wants to have consistency in her work. TEIJA launches four collections a year, and if a customer buys one piece in April and another one in November, the styles still match.

The clothes are produced in a few different countries in Europe and India. Eilola also has both full-time employees, international collaborators and a pool of freelancers working for the brand.

She would like to partner up with some Finnish fashion actors, too.

“I’ve always been intrigued by what’s going on in the Finnish fashion scene,” she notes. “When I was young, Finland was more known for architecture and other fields of design, but now I can stumble across a Finnish clothing brand in a shop in Paris”.

Concrete future plans always depend on what happens next and what projects come her way. The fashion world can be unpredictable.

“Often what I do can be a surprise to myself, too. To me, the most important thing is to develop my brand steadily and be able to spend time on the details of the design. Everything else is a bonus.”

Currently TEIJA collections are for sale in about 60 stores worldwide. Image: TEIJA
By: Anne Salomäki