In the build up to the launch of our latest collaboration with both Karhu and SSSU, we sit down with SSSU’s founder, Sasu Kauppi to learn more about his journey and his thought processes behind this latest collaboration.
A Central Saint Martins graduate, Sasu quickly became intrigued by the world of sportswear and its place within high end fashion and has since gone on to dedicated his SSSU label to this, producing garments to last through all seasons.
One thing we also felt we had in common with Sasu at Footpatrol was our love for music. This is something Sasu remembers growing up and pays just as much importance in his life than fashion. Having always flirted with this scene, producing music and DJing throughout his life, this has led to him working with some of the biggest names within the music and fashion industry… one big name in particular!
Check out the interview below and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for this latest collaboration launching on Saturday 17th October.
Footpatrol: Sasu welcome to Footpatrol! Before we get into it how are you, have you been busy?
Sasu Kauppi: Hi! I’m great, thanks. I’m excited about what’s to come. It’s actually been a quiet year when it comes to my design work, but finally some stuff will be out soon, this project obviously included!
FP: It’s been so good to be able to work with you on this collaboration with KARHU but before we get into it in more depth, where did your inspiration to want to go into fashion design come from?
SK: Good question. I was looking for the most mobile physical medium to present my creative work through. That’s how I ended up designing clothes. You see, they’re as mobile as it gets, they travel everywhere you go. Static galleries are nice, but most of the time not for me.
FP: Being a Finnish designer, having studied at Central Saint Martins and working with some of the biggest names in the industry you have been able to see fashion evolve in many different ways. How do you think the industry has progressed since you graduated?
SK: I feel fashion itself has almost come full circle since i went to Uni. The industry though is changing a lot, not least because of the current situation in the world. The direction, I feel, is right, but there’s still a long way to go.
As the most important change I see the companies’ will to focus on good design and not only sales and volumes. Wasting less on surplus and designing more for an individual customer. Smaller quantities of better products and not merely seasonal collections. I find seasons sort of an old-fashioned (pun intended) way of thinking. I want to create pieces that can be worn until worn out, not needing to care if they belong to a specific season or a trend in time.
FP: In your work we know you have Finland as your many source of inspiration. How has the country inspired you over the years when it comes to your designs?
SK: I often try to look for inspiration somewhere not obvious. Finnish culture is great for that since we’re not generally known as a fashion forward country, though there are a lot of talented creatives working and studying here.
I’ve used our culture as an inspiration in many different ways, from actual garments or photography refs to subtle or less subtle statements or for example a colourway for a collection. My first commercial collection that was sold in Japan (AW12) was inspired by ice hockey uniforms and fans’ costumes. Hockey has been the biggest sport in Finland since at least the 90s I think.
Finland is the most important country for me and even though I live elsewhere occasionally I tend to return here. Maybe there’s something about the darkness and cold winters that drives the creativity.
FP: Are we right in saying also that you produce music too?
SK: Yes, that is correct.
FP: Which came first fashion design, or producing?
SK: I started making music back in around 1995 or 1996. First by playing a guitar but later with the help of some computer tracker softwares. Early 2000s I was DJing and making a lot of electronic music, but since around 2004 when I studied fashion I didn’t have time for it until almost 10 years later.
I might be known as a designer, but music’s always been super important for me, ever since I was a kid.
FP: What drew you to want to go into music production in the first place and do you still do it now?
SK: I think it comes from my upbringing. Both my parents are musically talented, so it was always sort of a natural thing for me to be interested in making music.
Recent years I’ve been working on a lot of hardware synth/sampler driven music (still to be released). My background is actually in UK bass sound, jungle and drum and bass (which I DJed also), but nowadays I produce sort of a mixture of everything from ambient to techno to electro to pop. Actually, I hate genres and categorizing…I’m currently working on a producer album which would include various rappers and vocalists on different tracks.
Sometimes I make music just to relax and concentrate on something, along with my hobbies bicycle building, cooking and gardening.
FP: Besides your influence in fashion and music tell us about your shoe collection, would you consider yourself much of a sneaker head?
SK: Sure, I guess someone could call me a sneaker head. Never actually counted how many pairs I own, but they sure are hogging a lot of room around the house.
I tend to go for the very special drops rather than buying the classics in all colourways. I do own some collab styles from higher end brands like Raf, Rick and Yohji, but also classic stuff from most of your essentials sneaker brands.
Most of the shoes I own, I actually wear. There’s only a few pairs in boxes at home. Nowadays I tend to buy more sneakers for my daughter, actually, than for myself, ha.
FP: We’ve really enjoyed working with you on this KARHU project, how was it working with the team in the design process?
SK: Glad to hear. It was interesting to work with two different kinds of brands and learn about/from their process.
Obviously a three way collab sets more challenges with scheduling, logistics and correspondence not to mention design decisions, compared to a two way collab, but I think we pulled it off pretty well!
FP: Could you tell us a bit about the story behind the colour way and design of both the shoe and tracksuit?
SK: I was asked to work on the specific Legacy model, which I thought was good, since I like to have some boundaries when designing. I was trying to look for quite odd placements and colour/texture blocking, but still to retain a commercial approach. I wanted to add some logos on the shoe in sort of a “merch product” layout.
I would say the colourway of the shoe, at the end, was a collaborative decision between myself, Karhu and Footpatrol. My initial sketches were quite a bit more colourful, but we ended up using earthier tones, which also translate differently in each different surface texture.
The colours on the sweatpant and sweatshirt obviously borrow from the colourway of the shoe, also being heavily inspired by my original SSSU triple panelled pieces. We kept the branding and added Footpatrol and Karhu logos on the tape and also did this chenille/embroidered graphics on the front of the sweatshirt.
FP: Your logo is also featured on the vamp of the shoe alongside the Karhu branding as well as the heel, where did the logo come from, is it something you have always carried?
SK: Prior to year 2015, when I was still working on my SASU KAUPPI brand, before merging it with my newer brand SSSU, I had this SASU KAUPPI logo that was made out of basic geometrical shapes like circles, triangles and rectangles. I think it was designed around 2011, when I started.
I just took the letters S and U from the logo, and made the SSSU logo out of that. Came out fun. And, yes I design all the prints and graphics myself.
FP: The tracksuit drew inspiration from one of your original designs, could you walk us through the aesthetic of it and why it was put together in that way?
SK: It’s based on my classic fit of garments that I’ve been using for several years on my own collections and also some other work. A little oversized, sort of a 90s fit.
The idea for the panelling came from an old photo of a sweatshirt. And then I just added the chenille letters and embroidery. Nothing more special about that.
On different versions of the original design the branded tape twists around the leg or sleeve and creates almost sort of a spiral. For this project I wanted to go with something a little more commercial.
FP: Sasu honestly it’s been great to have worked with you on this collaboration, before we leave you though is there anything at all you want to share with the Footpatrol family?
SK: Thank you guys a lot, for trusting in me with this one! Thanks!