Rolf Ekroth
Zipper Blues
on JANUARY 11TH, 3:00PM (UTC+1)
For Fall Winter 2022, Rolf Ekroth draws from the emotional and aesthetic landscape of Finland in the mid 1990s as he remembers it: tinged by melancholia, the arrival of MTV and techno blaring from the stereo system of a scuffed up Honda Accord.

Listening to Smashing Pumpkins, Ekroth found himself reminiscing his teenage years spent spectating his friends’ and cousins’ passion for small motorbikes and souped-up cars. A comment under Smashing Pumpkins’ cult 1979 music video on YouTube—“This song manages to give me nostalgia for memories I didn’t even have”—led Ekroth to imagine what his youth could’ve been. The collection is a longing homage to endless nights loitering at gas stations, hitching a ride in an older friend’s car and discovering popular culture for the first time. It draws from the dichotomy of teenage melancholia and hope — a narrative present in Ekroth’s native Finland both in the late 90s and today, as the world starts to open up anew.

The collection’s name, Zipper Blues, references not only the lyrics of 1979 but also the act of zipping your jacket up and down, always ready to leave, never quite at home anywhere. It is a poignant observation of youth and of Ekroth’s current situation. Having previously worked with investors, he broke off on his own in 2020 and has since been building his label independently.

At the core of the collection, technical cuts that evoke the robust form of motorcycle trousers meet oversized jackets, lined collars and moody prints to create a universe that feeds off real and false nostalgia. Utilitarianism meshes with nods to youth culture and explorations in sustainable dyes: some pieces exhibit contemporary takes on indigo batik. The nearly awkwardly ill-fitting jackets of Ekroth’s youth are reimagined as confidently oversized pieces.

Prints get a new interpretation through the lens of hope and melancholy too, as last season’s florals receive a darker treatment. The bloom is now decidedly over: Ekroth’s flowers have wilted and become a floral camouflage, complimented by a print that recalls an oil spill at a gas station.

The nostalgia that cuts through the collection is also visible in Ekroth’s endeavour to preserve and modernise traditional Finnish crafting techniques. Macramé knots are born again as utilitarian bags, and pieces of old cord found in the studio have undergone a metamorphosis that involves hundreds of hours of hand-fraying to become fake fur-like sweaters. The collection forms a continuum to Ekroth’s aim of producing clothes as sustainably as possible in a world where every decision carries weight.

Rolf Ekroth is an independent Finnish fashion label that champions utilitarianism, nostalgia and the power of sus-tainably produced clothes. Built upon observations of youth and life in Finland, it harnesses the subtle nuances of its Finnish roots but applies freedom to reimagining history and old crafting traditions. Comfortably perched between superficiality and profundity, it is an homage to the transformation that well-designed clothes elicit: a newfound will to walk through the world without hiding.