Rolf Ekroth, Tuesday, January 30, 2024 at 11.00, Øksnehallen
We all know and understand the concept of athleisure and the number of hoodies and track pants still appearing on runways across the world shows it’s not going away soon but, with trademark left-field wit, Rolf Ekroth put his focus squarely on the leisure part of that portmanteau with a collection that celebrates the world of sport but as a watcher on the sofa rather than as wannabe participant. As someone who doesn’t ever want to see the words sport, snow, and vacation together in one sentence, I was primed to appreciate this one.
Played out to an 80s soundtrack of Depeche Mode and The Fall, rosy cheeked models (out in the fresh air or is the central heating on too high?) strode down the simple runway with an attitude that was way grungier teenager than it was athlete. The first outfit was the ultimate cosy onesie – a folkloric Scandi knitted ski suit (made in collaboration with Novita, the largest knitwear producer in the Nordics) that should definitely be seen out in public and not just at home. The theme developed into beautiful, hooded sweaters, balaclavas, mittens and even legwarmers in variations of the same motifs mixed in with more regular sweatshirts and zip ups emblazoned with the logo ‘RAKAS’ (‘Dear’ in Finnish – a heartfelt rather than competitive touch). Elsewhere, the living room won over the stadium with chintz curtains becoming shirts and pants, button-back Chesterfield sofas reworked into leather coats and shorts and plump cushions taking the form of zip up bags. There was a child-like element of play when ice hockey shin pads were fashioned out of pillows and huge skirts (worn by men) had a dress-up vibe as if a blanket had been grabbed from the armchair and wrapped around the waist. As always with Ekroth, outerwear shone: jackets and coats in raspberry mohair were chic whilst an elephant cord coat was embellished with buttons to add an extra element of texture. The final outfit of dangling snowballs was a bit disconnected from the rest perhaps – it would have been interesting, instead, if the standout knits had been interpreted into a dramatic show piece to end the presentation. But that one niggle apart, this was an excellent collection and stands as a real testament to Ekroth’s skill as a designer that it can appear creative and innovative on the runway but then separated out into covetable and wearable pieces.
Cute footnote to the show: in a true Scandi egalitarian way of offering pieces to all income brackets, the sweaters are also available as knitting pattern and yarn kits so you can DIY them yourself, perhaps whilst curled up on the sofa watching sport on tv. After all, knitting is exercise too, right?
See a selection of the show looks below and see the entire collection here.