Aino Vainio is one Finland’s most promising young designers – her newest knitwear collection I Know Why No is a hand-coloured and delicate spring ensemble, inspired, she claims, by films Waterworld, Mad Max, Lost Boys and Andy Warhol’s artwork for the seminal Velvet Underground & Nico LP. Vainio was keen to pick through her techniques with Wonderland.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be a designer.

The influence of my family has been important. Both my parents have regular jobs but they have always been into art and design. I also have two older brothers who are really into music. As a kid I got to travel quite a bit with my parents and go to exhibitions all over the world. This made me want to become an artist, but as a teenager I got really into clothes and fashion. Back then during the grunge phase I was buying all the clothes that I could. It was then that I figured out that design could be something creative – so I went onto study fashion.

What have been the key influences on your work?

Lots of different things. One of my first favourite designers was Vivienne Westwood. I am also influenced by punk and other subcultures from the nineties. There were also lots of movies, too, like Lost Boys, Blade Runner, Grease and Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan. Twin Peaks has also been influential.

What would you say to someone who hadn’t seen your work before?

The pieces are all handmade and knit from bamboo, cotton and wool. I dye most of the yarns myself. I have been concentrating mainly on the knits that have become my trademark.

What elements inspired you your latest collection I Know Why No?

It’s about aesthetic destruction and I take that to mean that things don’t have to be so perfect. I was looking for the beauty of imperfection where things are a little bit rusty and falling apart. It is also inspired by friendship and love, which came from my friends and the people I enjoy working with. Movies and music remain a constant source of inspiration. I had Waterworld, Mad Max, Lost Boys and the cover of the Velvet Underground & Nico album in mind for my latest collection. My friends and I meet up as part of a film club every week, where we watch lots of Jim Jarmusch, who I also find inspiring.

Some of your items have been worn by Finnish popstars like Jenni Vartiainen. What other celebrities have worn your clothes?

Mainly Finnish people at the minute. The popstar Manna, Finnish TV personalities Maria Veitola and street style photographers and fashion journalists like Liisa Jokinen and Sally Raeste.

Who would you most like to design for?

Anyone could wear my stuff, but have to have strong personalities to carry the knits off well. A lot depends on the styling, too, of course. I have already sent knits to Björk and Juliette Lewis – PJ Harvey, Patti Smith and Kim Gordon are also on my list. I’d like to see some men wearing my knits. Musicians like Iggy Pop, Dave Gahan and Thom Yorke would be good.

What can the fashion world expect from Aino Vainio in the future?

I aim to have a different and more commercial range and have my pieces knit by others. I would also like to collaborate with a bigger brand, such as the Finnish company Marimekko. I will be participating in the Helsinki Fresh show with other young Finnish designers in Berlin. I would also like to make more jewellery and do some costume design for films.

Words: Gareth Rice


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