How could up-and-coming fashion house Vejits have possibly known the dramatic change of fortunes awaiting it when the phone rang back in January? At the other end of the line was a representative from Oxford Fashion Studio. The fledging label received an invitation to present its wares at New York Fashion Week.
“It was a total surprise that somebody knew that we exist,” recalls designer Olli Turunen, showing little sign of fatigue even though he returned from the Big Apple merely 24 hours earlier. “Oxford Fashion Studio was searching for new talent. They invited different brands and we were the only one from Finland.”
This step up to the big-time was a considerable leap forward for the Helsinki-based team. Once there they rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry. They staged a catwalk lined with blockers and buyers. They gave interviews, made contacts and drummed up publicity. In short: it was a raging success.
Not bad at all for a company that was only founded a year ago.
Vejits’ New York appearance has set the ball rolling for its forthcoming spring and summer range. Filling racks from April, the collection boasts patterns and designs that are emboldened by bright Asian colours intertwined with Nordic minimalism.
This unique cultural flavouring is seasoned by the origins of its core trio. Alongside Helsinki native Turunen are Russian Mikhail Volodchenkov and Pornwijit Chuasomboon from Thailand.
“We are trying to find something new – angles, cuttings, silhouettes,” Turunen states. “Our ideas come from the colour of nature and the seasons; from leaves, snow, seas and so on.”
Taking its name from a Thai word meaning ‘fine art’ and ‘elegance’, Vejits’ fabric designs are created in-house, with laser printing then carried out in Thailand. Seeking to clothe people in the 25-45-age bracket, Turunen concedes that Vejits’ colourful modes of expression are not for everyone. And that’s just fine with him.
“We are looking at a certain target group that likes to wear something different to the norm,” he elaborates. “With men we have put a little bit of courage into the colours and prints. The ladies’ styles are more European, more international.”
Sitting in a small studio located in Helsinki’s hip suburb of Kallio, it seems fitting that while Turunen is here giving an interview, both Volodchenkov and Chuasomboon are currently attending the world’s largest fabric fair in Paris.
This collaborative, outward-looking approach also extends beyond Vejits’ own members. Rather than keep its ideas and creativity buttoned up, the fashion house shares its studio space with fellow labels Pioniplus by Ilona Voltti and Hezzuhezzu* by Piyapong B. Kerdmoh.
“We are all professionals in the textile industry with different backgrounds,” Turunen explains. “We are sharing our skills and rent, putting things together. So, this setup is possible – even with different brands. I would like to do this in an even wider way.”
Achieving such a dream is well on the way to becoming a reality. One particularly promising outcome of Vejits’ New York visit was being asked to organise a Finnish-themed popup there in future, showcasing what’s going on in the local scene.
“We have a lot of skilful people in Finland; together we have very strong and different collections,” Turunen enthuses. “But more courage and cooperation is needed with our designers. This is the key thing if we’d like to do it on an international level.
“Let’s go and do this together!”
*Known as Hetzukoto since 2018