In this week's designer interview, we are joined by the designer and founder of the Finnish fashion brand Ivana Helsinki, Paola as she tells us more about the family background of her business, and why sustainability is so important to the brand. 

How did your brand begin?

My dad founded our family company in 1964 under the name Farmariteollisuus Oy. They were a leading manufacturer of jeans, jeans-related fashion and youth fashion back in the ’60s and 70’s in Scandinavia. He founded a sister company called Markkinointi Pentti Suhonen Oy in 1971 and that was registered officially in 1973.

My sister Pirjo and I started Ivana Helsinki's design and fashion brand together in 1998 as part of this family business. Our very first collection was all about jeans, celebrating our dad’s heritage in the jeans business. In time our dad stepped aside a bit more and my sister and I started to develop the Ivana Helsinki brand.

All these family companies/brands later merged to become Markkinointi P. Suhonen Oy/ Ivana Helsinki.

Values are really important to us at JewelStreet. What are your core brand values?

Sustainability, timeless design and slow fashion.
We have never followed trends as our main guide. Our aim is to provide timeless, high-quality pieces. This is everyday luxury and wearable art that our customers can enjoy year after year.

Animal & human rights.
We wish to promote and uphold animal and human rights. At every event, whether it's a PR event, a fashion show or whatever, we only offer vegetarian or vegan food. We are very strict about supporting animal rights and regularly donate to our partner Rescueyhdistys Kulkurit [a Finnish animal rescue charity].

How do you ensure your designs are ethical and sustainable?

We aim to keep our collections exclusive. This means we make relatively small numbers of each piece. Limiting the number of garments reduces the chance of unsold stock. It is our way to make sure each item gets a home and thus fulfils its purpose.

Our aim is to use environmentally friendly materials in our designs, focusing on organic cotton and modified fibres like viscose. Starting with our AW22 collection, only recycled materials will be used when we have to use synthetic materials. Most of our garments are made from a single material, which makes them recyclable if the user so wishes.

Our main production partner is located in Izmir, Turkey; it’s a family-owned production company with whom we've cooperated for decades. We’ve personally conducted multiple audits with them to ensure that our requirements for quality but also sustainability and ethics are met.

Have you won any awards for your work?

2018 Finlandia Prize for an outstanding artistic career 
2014 Pro Finlandia Medal
2012 Golden Helsinki medal – the mark of merit for artistic work
There are others too. 

Do you work with any charities?

We do a variety of different charity work, for example promoting the breast cancer awareness association Tunne Rintasi, and regularly donating to our animal-welfare partner Rescueyhdistys Kulkurit.

Have you been featured in any exhibitions?

2012-2016 Boutique Art Installation at Amos Art Museum, Tokyo Spiral Gallery, Berlin Kunsthall and in Washington DC
2009 Barbie Dressed by Ivana Helsinki
2008 Ivana Helsinki Exhibition, Mori Arts Center in Tokyo
2005-2006 Fashion Installation, Tokyo

What drew you to JewelStreet?

We like the ethical and forward-thinking style and found our values perfectly aligned with JewelStreet.

Thank you for talking with us Paola!

Discover more fashion designs with Ivana Helsinki on their boutique at JewelStreet.