A coolhunters guide to edgy fashion in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius
There are unique fashion treasures to be found all over the Baltic capitals – provided you know where to look. Many small local fashion labels are virtually unknown abroad, but have a growing fan base among the trendsetter crowd.
In Latvia, “the big bang moment” was 2009, according to visual journalist Agnese Kleina. That’s when the first concept store opened and fashion bloggers swung the spotlight on up-and-coming designers.
“A new generation took over the scene, among fashion design teachers, students, buyers in the stores, everywhere,” she explains.
Talk to anyone who knows anything about Latvian fashion, and One Wolf is a brand that comes up every time. Kleina describes the brand enthusiastically: “It has a Scandinavian kind of style, this unisex unsexiness.”
And she means that as a compliment.
“Lately One Wolf has taken off creatively,” says Kaisa Kahu, an Estonian art and fashion manager living in Latvia.
Kahu works for the Latvian fashion designer Keta Gutmane, whose style she describes as “urban avant-garde.”
“The clothes are like wearable architecture, wearable art,” says Kahu, who is also impressed by what’s happening south of the border, in Lithuania.
“Many brands there have a very modern exciting visual vocabulary,” she says.
The best place to see new Lithuanian fashion is the Mados Infekcija fashion festival – that’s Lithuanian for ‘fashion infection’. The festival, organised every spring, casts the spotlight on new local talent like OHMY, creators of offbeat street fashion.
The OHMY look is both familiar and strange: it oozes street credibility, but seems to represent some fictional subculture from the future.
In Tallinn, too, you can find some exciting local fashion design. A must-see is the Estonian Design House in the Kalasadama district, which offers a selection of everything cool and Estonian. In the old town, Liina Viira is a boutique offering a fresh take on knitwear. They sell delightfully quirky pullovers and other colourful things to keep you warm in winter.
Another little fashion oasis is Zero, a concept store hidden in Tallinn’s start-up incubator outside of the city centre.
On the men’s side, browse through the racks of Swärk shirts and you’ll find a smile tickling the corners of your mouth. Swärk produces classic shirts with deliciously outrageous details. Who wouldn’t want a shirt adorned with a collage of naked ladies from 18th-century paintings!
Kahu says that the local fashion scene in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is still small and only just getting off the ground.
But the culture is changing.
“Now new brands are springing up all over the place. People are starting to understand that commercial success is possible, but it just takes a lot of work,” says Kahu.
Text by Markus Kuokkanen Photos by Nora Krevneya and OHMY
Where to find hot local fashion
Estonian Design House,
Zero, Veerenni 24
Liina Viira, Muurivahe 36
Nu Nordik, Vabaduse Väljak 8
Les Petites, Telliskivi 60A
Paviljons store, Terbatas iela 55
8 Rooms and OskaR, Dzirnavu iela 67, in Galerija Rīga shopping mall
Elīna Dobele shoe store, Valnu iela 12
Taste Latvia, Audēju iela 16, in Galerija Centrs shopping mall
Moustache Boutique, L. Stuokos-Gucevičiaus gatvė 3
Decolte, Stiklių gatvė 6
V2 concept store, Dominikonų gatvė
Lilija Larionova fashion studio, Klaipėdos gatvė 4
Baltic fashion design online
This Estonian fashion brand ‘upcycles’ leftover materials from the textile industry. reetaus.com
The Estonian menswear brand produces button-up shirts with a playful twist. swarkshirts.com
Malvine Mennika is a Latvian designer who started out making beaded jewellery, but later added clothing to her range. malvine.lv
This Latvian unisex label does magic with denim. Their new collection includes bow ties that look like real butterflies. onewolf.lv
Latvian brand known for its bold and witty prints. beqooqoo.com
Lithuanan fashion inspired by futuristic subcultures. ohmy.lt
Eye-catching clothes and leather accessories for men and women from Lithuania. kristinakruopienyte.com
This article is published in the November 2015 issue of Blue Wings.