I witnessed Aira Samuli offer fashion tips for aspiring businesspeople. It was in the 90ties, we ate uunileipä (slices of wheat toast with minced meat, paprika and cheese) on weekends and binged on TV. Samulin prompted a businessperson to reveal their undergarment on a talk show. They lifted the leg of their pants revealing white tennis-socks which they wore with a black suit. Samulin shamed them.
This is how we grew into fashion. It was logical: Pay much, look good.
The Soviet Union had collapsed, people were hurting and the nation aimed to the west. Finns had factories and products but I guess they weren’t selling. Someone like Samulin convinced factory owners that Finns didn’t know how to market their stuff and that this was a reason for the emerging sustainability gap. There were even songs about this… Artists presented Finns as apes who fell from a tree.
Dressing properly, like some had seen businesspeople in international airports do, was a valid effort. It was a structural change of the era: A leap from production, to looking like a product. This period bootstrapped the careers of hightier media-bullies such as Jari Sarasvuo and Nalle Wahlroos.
This is how marketing gained its power and by the early 2000 marketing was everything. For consumers this change looked like Heikki Kinnunen turned into Neo from the Matrix. This figure reached its peak as the political figure of Alexander Stubb. Perhaps Kinnunen-Neo saved us from the recession. The media was saturated by colourfully printed annual reports and 3d corporate logos (and specifically adverts detailing how much rebranding had cost).
For a while the media was saturated with marketing and everything became a stylistic choice. Valio and other Nordic dairy companies ripped off Keith Haring to convince us that drinking milk was actually a style. At which stage of the production line does milk become a style? Efforts like this dislodged material relations. People seized to eat to feel good, they begun to eat to manifest their values. I think the milk-fashion-swindle is touched in Rumina (2017) Anni Puolakka.
Marketeer made farmers and cooks fashionistas and they’re still on it with superfoods.
Communication agencies came to be. Unhinged politicians escaped their responsibilities by joining lobbies and agencies which aimed to interface, to produce relations and events. Everything became a launch. Products weren’t sold, they were to produce relations.
But relations to what? To whom? We’ve reached a peak where communication agencies are revealed as the media. There aren’t any journalists left and the communication agency leaflets get published without edits. For a while marketeers mistook this as a sign that their professionalism but actually it was a symptom: There is only an echo chamber left. Only an echo chamber left.
Factory owners in Finland have spent the last 30 years attaching new meanings to old products. We’re left with Moomin, Marimekko (reincarnated as Makia), Fiskars and Kone. Each investing millions to agencies to constantly renew their relationships with their client. Billions of wasted money. Their products stink of uunileipä.
This is why we need support for art. The sustainability gap is a result of bad investments.