Rolf Ekroth uses Bio2 — a textile fiber made from straw — for FW21 collection

Joining forces with Finnish energy company Fortum to find a new purpose for what stands for one of the biggest polluting problems in the world.
March 01, 2021

The Finnish designer did have a different life before joining the fashion industry.

— It includes studying social work at Helsinki University, figuring out that I’m not a good enough person to be doing that for the rest of my life, he tells. Continuing from there to poker, figured that was not the get-rich-quick-scheme meant for me and from there finding fashion.

He studied fashion at Aalto University when Tuomas Laitinen was the teacher and today, he’s one of the industry’s most exciting names from the Nordics.

His FW21 collection, ”Reset. Start Over Again”, is a part of the Pitti Uomo Connect initiative and was first launched through a digital presentation today.

— The collection is inspired by straw, the main ingredient of the Bio2-textile that I was given by Fortum. I wanted to build the whole collection around straw and create a sort of tongue-in-cheek cult following around it. We made prints out of Finnish fields where the straw was picked up, prints about straw mobiles — himmeli — that are still quite popular in Finland. Also straw-figurines and other decorations. We made tons of handmade straw decorations in this collection, and when I say ”we”, I mean my mum. She was amazing! says Ekroth, also praising Matilda Diletta and Tino Nyman from his graphical team, who made the prints.

Tell us more about the special fabric you’re using.

— It’s called Bio2 and is a textile fiber made from straw. The raw material is straw, an agro-residue that’s typically discarded or even burned. Burning straw is one of the biggest polluting problems in the world. This textile could in the future replace fossil-based raw materials and in this way, it would reduce land degradation and deforestation. We started talks with Fortum just before Covid hit, we continued talks with them and at the beginning of autumn, we had the first samples meters of the fabric.

Will you keep working with it? 

— Hopefully so. The quality is amazing, I would compare it to the jerseys that Rick Owens uses in his collections. I think this innovation is the future for the textile industry. There have been a lot of different eco-friendly products in the past, but the feel and luxury quality have been missing, at least in jersey products for me, Ekroth states.

How’d you describe the digital presentation showing the collection?

— The basic idea for the video was simple: From tradition to modernity, from past to future, from dark to light. Alban Adam, who I’ve been working on from the beginning of the brand, directed the video, and Tuomas Laitinen styled it. We had an amazing film crew, make-up and hair team, and crazy good models, and shot the video in Finland in just one day.

Rolf Ekroth has one more special project with another Finnish company on the way, with more details expected to be revealed soon.