responsible growth Make it rain, Rolf EkrothBy Jani Niipola on May 22, 2021Rolf Ekroth is not kidding. The talented Finnish designer makes a point of describing himself as the serious one compared to Japanese designer Wataru Tominaga. A comparison is needed because the two designers have worked together for a new collection.The brand-new rainwear collection for Vallila Interior is a leap for the traditional Finnish company. Founded in 1935, Vallila is known for curtains, rugs and wallpaper. Clothing, not so much. Ekroth and Tominaga were chosen by Vallila and Juni Communications – a Finnish creative PR agency that helped create the concept – to design the clothing collection.Moments before the collection hits the stores, Rolf Ekroth is full of praise for Vallila. He describes the project as easy – in the sense that he had creative freedom for Vallila’s side. “I am forever grateful to Vallila that they were willing to take a risk and launch a clothing collection in times like these. For a designer who runs his own label and has his own bills to pay, it is extremely important to work”, Ekroth says in trademark dry humour.“Of course, he ended up using floral prints but Rolf Ekroth’s prints for Vallila are not your grandmother’s floral prints.”Both designers have had international success. Wataru Tominaga is a Japanese designer with ties to Finland. He studied an exchange year in the famed Aalto University before winning the Hyéres competition in 2016. Naturally, also Rolf Ekroth is a product of Aalto. And he has had success in Hyéres. Ekroth and Tominaga both made two different prints for the capsule collection. “I think there is that one thing for every designer that they hate. For me floral prints are somehow too easy: just cover everything with them and the piece looks great”, Ekroth says. Of course, he ended up using floral prints but Rolf Ekroth’s prints for Vallila are not your grandmother’s floral prints. Ekroth’s partner Matilda Diletta designed the prints that take inspiration from Finnish meadows and an old Finnish schlager.The song title translates a bit poorly, but the singer Irwin Goodman was known for drinking songs – both joyous and sad. “Rentun ruusu”, the song that inspired Diletta and Ekroth tells a tale of a drinking (obviously) man that grabs a fistful of willow herb flowers from the trench on the way home. In the song the willowherb conveniently transforms from a plant in the wrong place, or a weed, into a rose.“I was on a long bike ride when I thought of that song and we came up with the idea of making a camouflage print based on willowherb. With Matilda we worked on the print for days, weeks even. In the middle one particularly long Photoshop session I said: that’s it”, Ekroth says. “Funny thing is that we created an acid version of that print in fifteen minutes, and that ended up being the other print. So, one print took us weeks and the other minutes.”Rolf Ekroth has been praised for his collections in both Italian and US Vogue. His shows in Pitti Uomo have caused a stir in the notoriously critical Italian fashion scene. The collection and collaboration with Vallila is a new type of challenge – a collection for the masses.“You have to design with the intention to sell as much as possible. This you must have in mind in everything from the design to prints. In this sense, I think we are a great fit with Wataru, too. He is playful and I am dead-serious”, Ekroth says with a grin.Rolf Ekroth is also known for his artistic ambition. Even though he may have had to tone down his high-end designs this time, the rainwear theme is perfect for Ekroth. Another one of his trademarks is the influence of sports and sportwear in his work. A master at working with technical materials, the Finn is in his element designing rainwear. “I knew what I wanted to do immediately as I heard about the concept.”To celebrate Ekroth, Tominaga and the Vallila collection, an installation by architects Ville Kokkonen and Florencia Colombo in collaboration with UPM is displayed in the window of Glasshouse Helsinki store on Aleksanterinkatu 13. The rainwear collection will be available at Glasshouse Helsinki store GH Aleksi and online in June.