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Nordic Influence

Words by Hannah Tapping

Modern tailoring and intricate design combine with historical references resulting in a clothing collection that remains true to designer Teija Eilola’s Finnish roots.

Teija Eilola was in receipt of a prestigious design award from the Fashion Fringe Competition – which was pivotal in her career, being mentored by Christopher Bailey, who was then CEO of Burberry – and hadn’t even finished her Master’s in Womenswear Fashion at the Royal College of Art when she was offered her first job with a Japanese design company. She went on to design collections for Ted Baker before consulting on other fashion brands in London and abroad. “I decided to start my own label, partly because when I was working for bigger companies the amount of design I was doing was vast. While fun and exciting, it did make me miss the handcrafted element I had fallen in love with at RCA. I had learned traditional tailoring and hand smocking and I really missed those elements of designing and developing in a studio environment.” Having been awarded a British Fashion Trust Fund from the British Fashion Council, the Teija collection grew. Like many during the pandemic, the lure of the coast drew Teija and her family to move to Cornwall. 

Her studio now has views of Padstow on the horizon and the label has grown to include a core collection of elevated day wear including shirts and dresses, skirts and outerwear; for the summer season, expect linen dresses and smock shirts, often using colour and always featuring interesting detail, shapes and intensity. A range of organic cotton t-shirts, sustainable cashmere and merino knitwear has just been launched alongside a new evening dress and bridal collection that includes bespoke, one-off pieces. Teija designs the collections in Cornwall with the pieces made in carefully selected workshops across the world. One of which Teija has been working with for over ten years and specialises in hand-sewn couture evening dresses, creating for the likes of Elie Saab. New collections build on old, with designs having a continuing evolution. “With some design shapes that I really like I might think, actually, I haven’t explored this enough yet and so will make a different version of it next season, perhaps incorporating a sculptural element that was really interesting into a new piece. Once I’ve developed a technique, I want to keep on exploring and investigating it. Other inspiration comes from researching fabrics, textiles and colour and then I just start working into the shapes.”

Teija uses mostly natural fibres – 100% silk, cotton and linen – as well as recycled polyester or sustainable eco-viscose: “I definitely love natural fabrics that last a long time and I would say our pieces are really hard wearing. I have dresses from 10 years ago that still feel fresh. If I have a fabric and I try to steam it and it reacts strangely, I’m literally put off immediately. Generally, I find a lot of manmade materials just don’t have the tolerance, so at the moment there’s only one viscose I’m using because it handles well and is very sustainable.” I’m currently working on the launch of a special capsule collection for Tomorrowland in Tokyo and a couple of other cities in Japan and they were just saying that their customers really love the fact that our pieces are so special and so beautifully finished.” Intricate hand-smocking and pin tucks are a often a feature of shirts and blouses.

Checks and stripes appear every season and this year a minimal tie dye has been added. “We also have some layered effects where we use tulle. I will use an interesting fabric underneath and then layer the fabric to create a halo of the colour. As our cut is complicated, I spend a lot of time testing and figuring out what looks best.” 

Teija’s Pre-fall ‘24 collection has just been shown at Paris Fashion Week.


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