If the recent years have seen comfort clothing proliferate into street fashion, Venla Elonsalo’s work shows us what the trend should have been all along: "The collection researches emotional comfort of plush toys by combining them into garments. The aim was to design clothes that give comfort in the same way as a favorite garment or a plush toy.” Let’s get cozy!

Let’s get started: Tell us a bit about yourself; where did you grow up, and what did you spend most of your childhood doing? 

I grew up in a small city that is located near Helsinki in Finland. I was a stubborn, but very kind child. I had a lot of toys. For most of my childhood, I played with my plush toys and surrounded myself with an imaginary world that built around our house. The toys that me and my two older brothers had back then were the characters in this imaginary world. I also played a lot with Legos.

What brought you to fashion design? 

When I was in fourth grade, I got very interested in sewing. I wanted to pursue a career that has something to do with clothes. Back then, I did not know much about fashion. I found out about Aalto University and the fashion studies during my upper secondary school and that finally brought me to fashion design.

Can you introduce your latest collection “Wearable Soft Toys”?

Wearable Soft Toys is a colorful and fun womenswear collection that concentrates on the emotional connection between a person and a soft toy. It plays with the idea of the comfort of the favorite garment and plush toy by combining them together through clothing patterns and details. The soft toys have been scaled up to be more wearable and to have similar proportions like a small child has with their toy. The collection takes its inspiration from my childhood and from pictures of children playing at the beginning of the 20th century.

How did you go about selecting the visual references to represent childhood and playfulness in your collection? 

I found old pictures of children playing that had the right feeling for representing childhood and playfulness. The pictures are from the beginning of the 20th century. I chose these pictures as a visual reference for the garments as well as for the feeling of the collection. For soft toys, I used teddy bears and real animals as a reference. It was important for me to research the real counterparts of stuffed animals to create my own design for toys of this collection.

Can you tell us a bit about the process/pattern making? Each garment from your collections must have been challenging to create. 

I enjoy challenging myself with garment patterns. In the Wearable Soft Toys collection, I have combined traditional craftsmanship with contemporary ways of making. For example, I utilized 3D modeling software like Blender and CLO 3D while making patterns for the Tiger and the Giraffe looks. The Elephant pattern was made by draping the fabric on a half scale dress form. For the Bear looks and the Panther look I went with making toiles and then fixing the pattern. Every pattern and material of the collection was carefully refined. The Sheep sweater is hand knitted, and I have developed many materials by myself including the glass eyes and fabrics for the Giraffe look.

Your collection is about emotional comfort. Which garment from the collection is the most comforting for you, personally?

For me, the most emotionally comforting one is the Bear jacket, because I love the authentic teddy bear mohair that I used in it, and it is easy to wear and carry around. 

What are your plans for 2022?

I am continuing my master’s degree and developing smaller projects. I am also looking for an internship to gain more experience in the field.

Swarm Mag currently focuses on animal and nature topics. So, the last question: What is your spirit animal?

My spirit animal is a cat. My life has been surrounded by cats, and a cat was my favorite animal even when I was younger.

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Venla Elonsalo is studying her master’s degree in fashion design at Aalto University, and she has been very fond of soft toys for all of her life. Her recent work has researched soft toys as wearable objects.




Lookbook taken by Sofia Okkonen: 

Styling by Minttu Vesala 

Casting by Islamovic Jasmin 

Make-up by Jenny Jansson 

Hair by Mikko Vainio 

Model Emma and Mira 

Production by Aalto Fashion 

Outdoor Photos taken by Ninni West: 

MUAH by Maria Boucht 

Models Adeola, Astrid, Emma, Helmi, Maurine, Miila, Vita 


Styling by Minttu Vesala 

Casting by Islamovic Jasmin 

Make-up by Jenny Jansson 

Hair by Mikko Vainio 

Model Emma and Mira 

Production by Aalto Fashion 


Aalto Studios Producer / Production Manager: Hetta Huhtamäki Aalto Studios / Assistant Producer: Maria Rantamäki D.O.P & Editing: Mara Jelinko 

Camera operator & Editing: Iikkamatti Hauru 

Camera operator & Editing: Aki Särkiniemi 

Producer: Heidi Karjalainen 

Choreographer: Eric von Christison 

Original Music and Sound Design: Sirja Puurtinen 

Soundtrack and Music Director: Koray Tahiroğlu

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