For his second show at Copenhagen Fashion Week, Finnish designer Rolf Ekroth tapped into the warmth of watching winter sports at home. Here’s a look inside the fall-winter 2024 collection, titled “Dear Night.”

Rolf Ekroth’s CPHFW AW24 Show Is Made for Comfort Viewing

For his second show at Copenhagen Fashion Week, Finnish designer Rolf Ekroth tapped into the warmth of watching winter sports at home. Here’s a look inside the fall-winter 2024 collection, titled “Dear Night.”
February 02, 2024
article by Mari Alexander/

photography by James Cochrane

Imagine this: It’s cold outside. Through the window of the living room, you see it’s snowing wet, heavy flakes.

What a good time to be indoors, dry and warm, with nothing but the whole day and the best TV programming ahead: the Winter Olympics. So, you turn it on and sink into the comfort of your couch — your escape hatch, your cocoon. That’s exactly the childhood memory Finnish designer Rolf Ekroth drew upon when dreaming up his fall-winter 2024 collection, titled “Dear Night.”

A few times every winter, Rolf would visit his grandmother at the northernmost edge of Finland, which doesn’t see sunlight for months, a phenomenon known as polar darkness. “I’m from Finland, and we don’t speak too much to each other — even families,” he tells me a few days after the show during an interview at the CPHFW showroom for new talents. “We’re quiet. But when winter sports come on, we have something to bond over, discuss, watch, and root [for] together.” And so, two seemingly disparate ideas came together: home and sports.

The Comfort of Sports

On a particularly cold and foggy morning, in the sprawling space of the Øksnehallen in the Vesterbro district of Copenhagen, a crowd has gathered to see Rolf’s second show at Copenhagen Fashion Week AW24. A hush has fallen over the sprawling space. Then, the silence breaks. Open, close, whirl, stop. The sounds of a cassette tape rewinding and playing the metronomic sound of the high-hat — the first notes of The Fall’s “C.R.E.E.P.” 

It’s an irresistibly upbeat track from the ‘80s, with a peppy chorus reminiscent of a sideline cheer — a small reference to sports. Marching to the beat, the first look steps onto the runway: a body-hugging one-piece ski suit. Rolf, who’s known for working with technical fabrics, renders this piece of winter wear (arguably the most high-tech of technical silhouettes) in knit. “That was what we had in the ‘80s,” Rolf says. “We didn’t have lots of nylons and shiny things.”

On the leftWith motifs of flowers and bird tracks in the snow woven throughout, this jumpsuit pays homage to traditional Nordic knitwear patterns.

This childhood imagery materializes in several looks. He plies the memory into an oversized brown blazer which mimics the tufted buttons of the back and arms of a couch. It’s immediately followed by another button-festooned coat — velvet, like his grandmother’s couch. (He remembers playing with the buttons when he was a kid.) A cushion-like harness-bag is layered on top of the coat, like makeshift protective padding kids wore to soften a fall on ice-skating rinks. 

And then of course, there’s Rolf’s favorite: a roomy jacket with a leather collar. “I’m always quite critical — critical of everything I do,” he says. “So it’s hard for me to be very happy with something. But I think this is starting to get close to where it should be.” It showcases his brilliant construction, controlled to the last stitch. When the model turns around, we’re treated to a little surprise: a tufted, velvet back. 

Elsewhere, references to sports abound, borrowed from various disciplines like cross-country skiing, ski jumping, ice hockey, and snowboarding. Ice hockey goalie shorts are reimagined in leather. Buttons are transformed into gold coins resembling sports medals. They’re speckled like stars on a night-sky-blue cardigan. I see them again as brooches on various other looks. Fun fact: upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that they’re made to look like pixelated, 8-bit graphics, a nod to Rolf’s love for Super Mario.

Another little time warp.

Preserving Tradition

In getting to know the designer’s work, it’s immediately obvious that at the heart of every Rolf Ekroth collection is a sense of cultural patrimony. He has a deep-seated affection for preserving Finnish heritage and highlighting the value and importance of handicraft. The opening-look jumpsuit, for example, is a collaboration with Novita. As the largest craft yarn manufacturer in the Nordic region, the family-owned business has a history that can be traced back to the 1920s. 

What’s more, when the collection comes out, customers will be able to buy a pattern so they can make their own version at home. Making things with your hands and seeing the results can be life-affirming — and Rolf’s own career is proof. “Going through my 20s, I had depression all the time,” he tells me. “But then getting into fashion and actually starting to work and [put] things together, it sort of gave me a purpose again.”

On the leftRolf created the harlequin pattern of these pants by sewing together squares of old soccer jerseys — a collaboration with athleticwear giant Puma. "Rakas" translates to "dear" in Finnish.

You may not think it, but Rolf didn’t start out as a designer. He dabbled in social work, sales, and even online poker before taking a sewing class — and falling in love with it. After graduating Helsinki’s Aalto University in 2015, success came in the form of several awards and a Pitti Uomo debut. “In school, I think I was mostly known for intricate handcrafting details, and when I started the label, I forgot them,” Rolf says. “So after the pandemic, I felt like we really needed to focus on those again. And that’s when I feel like a small thing clicked. Then it started to grow.” 

I saw this in full effect last season, when Rolf sent down a collection with silhouettes and colors inspired by his generations-spanning cultural heritage. Miniature alpha-woven pendants completed several looks, referencing traditional Nordic handcraft. This season, I notice them again, dangling from various jackets. They’re so beautifully crafted, it’s hard to imagine that they’re individually made by his mother’s hands.

A Snow-Dusted Finale

There’s another shuffle in the soundscape. This time, “Everything Counts,” is playing — a funky ‘80s anthem from the English band Depeche Mode. To its synth-pop-y pulse, the final look steps onto the runway: a tawny sweater-and-shorts set adorned with orbs of white yarn. The pompoms float like specks of snow caught on bristles of hair and clothes. “Usually when you, as a child, went out playing, you didn’t have sporty equipment,” he says. “You were, maybe, in wool trousers. When you came in, they were completely packed with snow.”

On the rightAlso made with the help of his parents, this snow-ball-festooned look was a showstopper on the runway.

If you haven’t noticed already, Rolf is big on detail — both big and small. One of my favorite aspects of experiencing his collections is finding these references planted within almost every look. Growing up in the dense darkness of Finnish winter is a far cry from where I spent my childhood. But there’s a certain universality about his memories that applies to everyone. The human impulse to gather for a game with loved ones by our side and of course, a running commentary on the proceedings. The innocence of playing outside in the snow. The emotional coziness of it all. 

Craftsmanship, construction, and stellar handiwork are all a given with any Rolf Ekroth collection, but the designer’s greatest superpower is using personal experiences to create, to uplift, to fix memory in fabric. His shows have a way of tenderizing you. When I ask him what he wants those who wear his clothes to feel, he says, “For me at least, when I put on a piece of clothing I really like, I feel like a better version of myself,” his voice softens and lilts with genuine honesty, “I hope that, like, you feel better.”