“Normally, this would be the busiest time of the year with all the hustle and bustle leading to the show,” says Tuomas Laitinen, course leader of the fashion programme at AALTO, Helsinki. The designers emerging out of Finland’s fashion factory are facing challenges imposed on them by the global COVID-19 pandemic. We caught up with five BA students and their course leader to see how lockdown has changed the way they work and the industry they face.
On 16 March 2020, the Finnish government announced that the country is in a state of emergency due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Following other countries, the nordic republic set restrictions in place and closed all public spaces, including schools. With more than 6,000 confirmed cases and over 4,000 recovered, the population, overall, seems to be improving, while the economy is now suffering. “The situation is better than in many European countries,” says Laitinen. This is reflected by the government’s recent decision of easing measures and letting people gather in groups of ten.
Usually in May, final year BA students would ambitiously and tirelessly prepare for the annual fashion show “Näytös”. Their graduate collections – ranging from fashion to exhibitions to theatre costumes – would have consisted of a minimum of five looks accompanied by a written thesis to be submitted in August. With everything rescheduled and put on hold, a new plan had to be made.
“We’re trying to make graduation happen in August with new criteria adjusted to the current situation.” – Tuomas Laitinen