Focus Finland: Paloni, up-and-coming Finnish designers
“The name Paloni means “my fire” or “my passion” in Finnish. I don’t believe our designers do what they do for money or fame, but because it’s the exact thing they need to do and want to do.” - Minna Särelä
We end our Focus Finland with the inspiration that started it all: Paloni. During New York Fashion Week AW13 (in February 2013) Paloni, a Finnish creative company that represents and sells handcrafted pieces from talented but yet undiscovered independent designers, descended on the Ivana Helsinki Concept Store for 18 days of events, parties and showcases.
What started as an idea for Paloni founder Minna Särelä to merely open a pop-up shop in NYC for a few weeks became a phenomenon: bringing 37 up-and-coming Finnish designers, representing 27 brands, to fashion week. With activities ongoing at the Elizabeth Street store from gallery events, to live music performances, the group networked with people from the local fashion industry and around it and in the end Paloni in New York raised a lot of media attention both in New York and back in Finland.
Minna Särelä, a graduate of international design business management from Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Arts and Design and Helsinki School of Business (Aalto University) founded Paloni because,
“I decided I wanted to work with design and aesthetics, and to create my own company and world that would inspire both me and people around me. I started preparing a business plan, assessing trends, looking for interesting designers of different fields, building visual mind maps… That background work lead me realizing even more profoundly than before how much and how talented independent designers there are, and how badly they needed and deserved more visibility and sales channels. Paloni started to take form.”
Paloni represents 80 independent designers who have a label and their own recognizable design and a continuity in what they do,
“Selling and marketing are usually not the core abilities of designers. I wanted Paloni to represent many designers so that the experience and product range would be versatile and interesting from the customer’s point of view. I also wanted that the designers could cooperate more, learn from each other and become better in selling and marketing their talent and products. I find that seeing other independent designers as competitors is not wise for the small designers. The true competitors are elsewhere. Cooperation will lead you much further than being protective and working alone.”
Each designer must show distinctive creativity through their work and be able to justify the ethical and ecological choices behind their products and either to make the products themselves or them have them locally made so that they can personally supervise the production and tell who creates each piece and guarantee that all production is done ethically.
Paloni goes to some 18 trade fairs and events every year. They also have a permanent Concept Store in Helsinki, and are now updating their online store. The New York trip in February was their first big international project.
“I’m very open with the future and possibilities of Paloni. I only want to do things that our designers want to do, because together we can be so much more.”
Want to see who the next big stars of Finnish Fashion will be – keep your eye on Paloni. The New York pop-up store displayed the following Finnish brands by the following designers: