As soon as we step inside the B&W Hallerne — an industrial behemoth on the island of Refshaleøen – a massive space opens up like a post-apocalyptic cathedral.
It’s an artificial-turf paintball field, illuminated by a skylight that’s a towering height away from the ground. Voices carry. Chatter echoes. All around, there’s scaffolding and giant shipping containers; the strobe lights and rows of chairs are perhaps the only indications of today’s runway show.
Looking around, I can’t help but think of the chaos that must break out here when the guns come out and paint goes Splat! And maybe, in that regard, it’s perfect for the Finnish brand, helmed by Creative Director Jimi Vain and CEO Roope Reinola. Dubbed “Social Avoidance,” the spring-summer 2024 collection visualizes the internal turbulence that’s been rattling Jimi’s psyche over the past few years. “When I started designing the Vain SS24 collection, I was in a knot with my thoughts, it felt like everything was chaos,” he says in the brand’s press release. “A pandemic, war, inflation, energy crisis and depression raged outside. The safe world the naïve child was born into had changed.”
This is the setting for that changed world – grim, tired, and sad amid a steady thrum of chaos. You might think this paints too bleak a picture, but this mindset within itself is a reflection of the Finnish’s current melancholy-prone worldview. In this place of anxiety and foreboding, however, something emerged. A way of grinding down these dark, tumultuous ideas and transforming them into something else.
A Digital Fairytale.
Vain’s story began with a shoe – a pair of Air Jordan 1’s that Jimi had reimagined and posted on social media. The shoes traversed the internet, swiftly picked up by a popular streetwear moodboard account. Next thing he knew, he was getting requests from the likes of Playboi Carti. The power of social media, made palpably clear by his own “digital fairytale,” is what sparked his next collection – McDonald’s workwear reinvented for the modern consumer. The duo behind the brand showcased the looks at a McDonald’s right outside of Helsinki. And again, it lit up the internet.
Back in January, Vain showcased its debut collection, solidifying a distinctly dark-goth aesthetic that’ll come to define it. Today, this darker palette continues to dominate. Up first: a head-to-toe black coat with an elevated neck, dropped shoulders, and snap-button closures left a quarter of the way undone. Then, more black; another model steps out in an exquisitely tailored coat, speeding through the divided runway as though running away from some invisible danger.