Today, as part of The Hieno! “What is Finnish-ness” series celebrating Suomi 100 in 2017, we feature the slightly mysterious and super hot Finnish gentleman Eero Böök!
Personally, I´d always found Eero to be wise. Through his example, I’d learnt to always make it a point to treat people with importance and kindness. Eero has extensive experience in fashion and retail in Finland and abroad, and we are very happy to have him on board The Hieno! Suomi 100 series.~
Enjoy the interview! ♡
TH: Moikka Eero! Thank you for accepting our interview. Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your experiences in fashion/retail?
I am Eero Böök. Originally from the small seaside city Naantali in Finland and currently living in London.
I have been working in fashion retail in multiple positions and also in different countries and companies. This has given me invaluable insights to the entity of retail.
At the moment, I am studying Business Management and Fashion marketing in London Metropolitan University. Besides my studies, I am also working for the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton.
Perhaps these key words describe my personality more: Dreamer, wine (sparkling), whimsy, with a million different alter-egos.
TH: You have such a long and rich working experience in fashion and retail. Are there obvious differences in how a Finn would dress in the countryside, vis-a- vis in a more city-like area like Helsinki?
Eero: I definitely think there is a big difference to how people dress up in different parts of Finland.
One of the most obvious reason is the varying availability of brands. In the smaller communities, it is a lot harder to find pieces which are not in line as the biggest trends. This is because usually in smaller towns, the only option is to purchase from the biggest retail companies.
Having said that however, the situation has indeed developed a lot because of the emergence of online retailers and social media “marketplaces”.
For people who are interested in luxury ready-to-wear the situation is harder. The markets are too small to attract big European luxury brands. When you are making a purchase, like 3000 euros for a coat, you most probably want to feel the materials and see the actual piece before making your purchase decision.
Of course, there is the possibility to return the items purchased online. Unfortunately, I know from my own experience that sometimes you just don’t want to go through all that packing and delivery hassle, so you will end up keeping the piece you actually didn’t love.
There are also some cultural points as well. I grew up in the city called Naantali and from the fashion point-of-view I perhaps would not compare that small seaside city to Helsinki. You see, powerful self-expression through clothes might confuse the people who are mainly wearing something practical like wellies instead of Guiseppe Zanotti heels.
So, this context might prove to be a challenge for people who really have the need to express themselves, because courage is needed to show up to work or school in striking outfit. For sure you will be noticed and maybe not in the nicest way.
This might especially apply if the person is playing with clothes that will create androgynous looks. I think we are still really stuck with gender-ism when it comes to clothing.
With time I am sure that people in smaller cities would get used to these different outfits like they got used to “sushi and cronuts”. *Just kidding.*
Unfortunately, the courage and inspiration might fade away from the person before we reach that level. Creativity needs support, open space and open minds.
TH: Why are Finnish guys and ladies so hot? Actually, why are you so hot?
Eero: Why are Finnish people hot.
Well, usually the best things are a bit hidden from publicity. Maybe this logic applies in this case as well – we have 5 million hidden gems in Finland!
I am very flattered if you find me as one of these crown jewels.
TH: *♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡* As an expert in retail, can you share with us some insiders’ secrets on how to dress to impress a Finn?
Eero: Well, when it comes to the topic of how to impress Finnish people I am sure that I am not the best person to ask.
This is because I have actually never dated any Finnish guy successfully. If I give any tips it would become a “blind leads blind” situation.
But if anyone knows the answer, please do not hesitate to contact me. *Laughs*.
TH: Well, they can contact *us*! :DDDDD ~ As a professional in fashion marketing and retail, who/what inspires you?
Eero: From the fashion marketing perspective, I’d been inspired by how big and old fashion houses are making campaigns with new generation stars like Selena Gomez, Willow and Jaden Smith.
This combination has been very successful for the companies, as they are getting new customers and publicity through social media. The visuals have been spectacular and the power of young fans is incredible.
It is nice to notice that the fashion houses –which are usually like big ships that turn very slowly–have adopted this fast-moving marketing strategy from these masters of self-branding and marketing. This is of course as opposed to seeing these younger people as threats. Or maybe, these new generation stars made big companies step down from their ivory towers.
Also, I have been getting inspiration from the subcultures of England which influence my personal way of dressing. I have been very interested in the Manchester street style–it is a very brutal and rough combination of sex, luxury, ugly beauty and sports.
A complete mess, in other words.
Unfortunately, the busy London lifestyle does not give me a lot time to wear street looks, so I have been mainly dressed in full suits.
TH: Heritage is commonly regarded as something important in the fashion world. There is sometimes concern in the industry that Finnish fashion might be at a disadvantage due to a short national history, vis-a-vis other European countries such as France, Italy, UK and Sweden. How do you feel about this?
Eero: I think our short history in fashion can be an advantage instead of a disadvantage.
The fashion world is always hungry and in fact our history in this field is not that old. We can easily create something new instead of following the strong image /vision we have once created — of irregular design.
I just read one of my favourite magazines “DAZED” that ranked Aalto University School of Arts as the top 3 in fashion. The success in Hyères fashion festival has sparked interest towards Finland as well.
The publicity that Finland has lately received proves my point that we are able to create something new. Like for example, the case of Sasu Kauppi and Kanye West.
Finnish high fashion sounds very exotic and it will be something unseen–exactly what the fashion world loves.
Maybe we just need to find a way to get these talents to work in Finland before they are headhunted by big companies outside of the country.
TH: Finland is commonly perceived as a “class-less” society. So if I walk along the streets of Helsinki with an Hermès bag, would I be seen as a snob?
Eero: Well, I am not sure if Finland is a “class-less” society…or do we just have smaller gaps in between the classes?
Hermès bag is a funny example. Luxury accessories or ready-to-wear do not really hold big markets in Finland, so I am sure that many people would not even recognise that bag. This is because Hermès is quite discreet when it comes to the logos and people are not that familiar with the design.
In general, I think people would find you a snob if they know the price tag of the bag. People are not very used to luxury designs so they might find them unnecessary- if you have not tasted it, how could you miss it?
TH: Can you tell us the top 3 things/ traits you regard as “Finnish”, and why?
Eero: I think there is one trait above others that I find very “Finnish” and that is our communication.
The way our humour and sarcasm comes across in our language is impossible to translate– for example in English– at least for me.
People easily get the feeling that I am distant and maybe a bit cold. I think we are just not used to small talk and cute sentences.
I have to admit that I do feel very special when I visit a supermarket in London and the person at the checkout calls me a “sweetheart”. I think it is very nice, but maybe because I am a bit narcissistic and attention is always welcome. You see, perhaps evidenced by this question on Finnish traits, sometimes I tend to turn the topic into myself.
I guess our spoken communication is exactly the same–as minimalistic as our Finnish style.
The second thing I would consider “Finnish” is perhaps our continuous mirroring to other people. We are all the time comparing ourselves to others and the others to ourselves. It is natural that in our small cities we pay attention to individual people on the street – as we know the streets are not too crowded. *laughs*
I think that is something we need to change. It brings a big pressure when you try to build your own style and you can’t find your own “subculture” to fit in. This is because the subcultures in Finland are very homogenous, especially from my personal point of view. You need to add slightly something “different” to your look, but you need to keep the rest in the same line with the others, if you want to be taken seriously and be accepted.
If you fail in this, “you can’t sit with us” is the result.
The third trait I find is the fear of failure. The uncertainty is always around–are we talking about work, clothing, the way we look, etc?
I think that in other words could be the famous “Finnish shyness” that we are always talking about. Perhaps “shyness” is simply a nicer word for the self-esteem problem we have in each other’s company.
TH: What is the number one misconception foreigners tend to have about Finns/Finland that you feel that is far from the truth?
Eero: People are very interested in the Nordic countries.
I have noticed that people have a strong image of Finland, which is very funny. To me, it sounds like a “Children’s fairytale paradise” where everything is perfect and everybody is financially stable or super rich.
Like every Finn, I am really proud of my roots, which I have just realised. So I keep that image with pride and take the full advantage of it.
I think I have a lot of credibility amongst my colleagues -– simply because we have built this very sophisticated brand to our country and school system.
TH: What are your personal dreams and vision for the future?
Eero: My vision for my future is clear.
I want to build a strong, free and professional career in the fashion marketing and branding field. My dream is to work for myself and not be locked in office from 8 to 16, five days a week. I am a hardworking person and I enjoy work in general, but I believe that a work week filled with routines would limit my creativity.
By “freedom”, I mean that if I want to go and have a weekend getaway in Paris – I am able to do it, because my laptop would be my “office”.
More flexibility. That is the life goal for me.
TH: What is the one 100-year-old birthday wish you would make for Finland, since 2017 is Finland’s 100 years of independence?
Eero: For a 100-year-old Finland I would like to wish Finland all the best! I also wish for an open-minded atmosphere in the midst of all the turmoil.
I started this interview talking about my home city Naantali. In a similar vein, I now want to “Finnish” this story.
The last time I visited Naantali, I actually saw a young girl with Minna Parikka´s bunny sneakers instead of the wellies. If Naantali´s street style has developed this much in the last ten years, what more can we achieve now that we are 100 years old?
The Hieno! is the official partner of the Finland 100 independence programme: What is “Finnish-ness”? endorsed by the Prime Minister’s Office. Photos courtesy of Eero Böök and Alex Aalto. Feel free to follow Eero on his instagram @eerob.
Yeah, that’s the only social media account Eero gave…😉