Rolf Ekroth Spring 2022 Menswear Collection

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Having split with his backers Rolf Ekroth made his debut as an independent designer last season. His spring collection is very much a sequel to the last, in ways material and thematic. The designer continued to mine his interest in rustic Finnish dress vernacular, and found new ways to used pre-existing pieces and fabrics, including collaborating with Aalto graduate Aleksandra Hellberg to use natural dyes (onion skins from grocery discards, madder, and the like) for tie-dye-ish effects

Ekroth’s starting point was Finnish Midsummer, which he filtered through his favored hobby horses, horror films, and sci-fi. Lore has it that if a woman places seven flowers under her pillow on the summer solstice she dreams of the one she will love. Ekroth took that tradition and created metal pins with a flower motif and applied them like amulets on a suit. Overall, Ekroth succeeded in evoking the pagan and the futuristic at once.

His focus on function and protection felt very current. These preoccupations are longstanding ones for outdoor brands and the military (and they’ve tended to skew masculine). Lately, they’ve seeped into designer menswear and are present in Ekroth’s work as well. He’s not following a trend though; having fulfilled his service duties, Ekroth has first-hand experience of clothes that have to work for the wearer.

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Shown under the aegis of Pitti, his spring collection was modeled by men and women, which is how the designer is used to seeing his clothes as his girlfriend borrows liberally from his wardrobe. Yet gender, and sex, seem subordinate here to the urgency of survival, even if that means surviving rush-hour, or an all-night rave. These are clothes that communicate that they are adventure ready and “have your back.”

In a season of skin-reveals, Ekroth is refreshingly not interested. “I always start the design process with things that I would like to wear myself,” says the designer, who thinks not only about how clothes can reveal one’s identity, but also how they “can sort of hide who you are.” (As a one-time professional poker player, Ekroth must have had to master the art of discretion.) “I would be horrible at doing sexy things because I like to cover people up,” he said with a laugh. “I think sexiness comes from other things.”

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