I had the great opportunity to interview Netta Kervinen, the head designer of the brand Ainokainen. Through our chat, I learnt a lot more, not only about the designer, but also about the amount of emotion and realness that can be found behind the brand.
Hi, Netta. It’s great to meet you. To start, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’m originally from Kotka, Finland. I’ve studied photography, arts and costume creation for a theatre. I graduated as a clothing artisan in the year 2008. I feel that all the different types of studying that I’ve done have helped me to get where I am now.
When was Ainokainen founded?
I founded Ainokainen at the end of 2008, but it was an idea that was already growing when I was in school.
How did your career as a clothes designer begin? When did you know you wanted to design clothes?
I have always had a strong tie with clothes. Even in primary and secondary school I loved choosing costumes for school plays. Costumes have always tickled my imagination. I love going to flee markets and playing with clothes. So in some ways, I guess you could say that I’ve been a “lifestyle-stylist” for myself and my friends all my life. Last year I received the award of Eco-stylist from Millton showroom. This was a first for a Finnish designer. So I guess you could say that I just found my way into clothes design. And in Ainokainen I was able to bring together my love of clothing and my desire to work for a more ecological way of life.
You collections are very original and unique? Where do you find your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from things and places that are old. In addition to that I get loads of inspiration from the nature, vintage, memories, feelings and different colours and materials.
Do you work alone or is Ainokainen a team effort?
At the moment I’m running Ainokainen pretty much solo. My mother is responsible for the making of the plant-coloured knits.
What makes Ainokainen so different is the philosophy behind the brand. Could you tell us a little bit more about the importance of ecological and ethical ways and what it means for you?
The whole concept behind Ainokainen is based in the idea how the desire for growth is not eternal or lasting. The rights of Men, the nature and animals are completely neglected at the expense of over-production. The models and ideas that big corporations provide us, over-write our foundations and many of our basic needs. I think we should focus more on moderation and on finding out where and how most of our daily products are manufactured and in what kind of conditions. My aim is to offer an alternative to the globally existing disposable culture.
Could you tell us a bit about your current collection?
The collection is currently based on women’s wear, but there are pieces for men as well. The collection consists of dresses, which are my passion, different types of skirts, tops, hoods, which can be used either as a hat or as an accessory on the shoulders. Then there are pendants, which are made of old newspapers. The collection also has knitted necklaces and earrings, and a kind of rosette made out of a tie. It works either as a substitute for a tie or attached to the chest pocket. Also women can use it as a broach, belt-accessory or in their hair. And then there are a few zipper-detailed sweaters for men.
Who is your typical client, if there is such a thing?
The typical client would be someone who appreciates Eco-dressing and beautifully tailored clothes, and who is interested in knowing where the piece comes from. But generally I would say that the typical client would be a woman between 30-40 years.
What do you wish to achieve in the future in terms of size of Ainokainen as a business?
I hope that Ainokainen will become a healthy and invigorating business that could employ more people. But in no ways is my aim to become a big fashion corporation.
Do you sell your clothes outside of Finland?
At the moment all of my resellers are in Finland, but in the future I would hope to find some resellers abroad as well. Ainokainen is not very focused on the online side of the business, but I do make some sales through email, which I offer for other countries as well, not just Finland.
Who do you look up to or admire? Do you have a favourite designer?
I admire people who do things from their heart, and who respect others and their environment. I don’t have a particular favourite designer.
There’s a lot of competition in the fashion business. How have you experienced this competition yourself?
I haven’t worked as a designer for long enough to feel this pressure. In addition to that, my aim is not to become a designer who competes against other designers. Even though eco-fashion is pretty fashionable at the moment, I feel that I’m creating lasting-design rather than fashion. I think it’s a decision that each designer has to make, whether or not to get involved in this competitiveness that rules in many parts of the business.
What are the best aspects of being a designer? What’s the most rewarding part of it? Do you find anything that’s particularly negative or tough?
The best part is being able to create, getting inspired and the moment when an idea comes to you. It can come anywhere and at any time. I often get ideas right before falling asleep or even in my dreams. The most rewarding thing is the feeling that you’re doing something important, and the moment when you find a client for a particular product and you see the excitement in their face. The sometimes tricky part is time-management in a way that you get everything necessary done in time.
What’s the one advice you would give to new designers who are just starting out?
Think why you’re doing what you’re doing and weigh the two. I definitely want to encourage everyone who have gifts and creativity to go for it, but just remember the responsibility that comes with it.
For more information about Ainokainen and Netta Kervinen, visit the Ainokainen website at www.ainokainen.fi.