Unique shoes from Finland
Introducing Terhi Pölkki
Terhi Pölkki – the Finnish shoe designer about her shoes and unique approach
»My design philosophy is based on practicality.«
Dear Terhi, please introduce yourself and your shoe brand Terhi Pölkki.
I am a shoe designer based in Helsinki, Finland. I founded my shoe brand Terhi Pölkki in 2011. The first collection was for spring-summer 2012 and consisted of a range of styles in sustainable leather and a selection of wooden clogs. The brand has a flagship store in the heart of Helsinki.
After studying design, you worked as a shoe designer for major fashion brands in London. What did you want to do differently when you started your own label?
I worked for a premium shoe brand in London for years. That gave me the opportunity to visit shoe factories in China, India and Brazil and to meet professionals and shoe lovers around the world.
The idea of my own brand grew stronger through these trips – and they made clear to me that I would build my own label on ecological values.
Sustainable shoes with a design appeal are still hard to find. What is the biggest challenge in sustainable shoe production?
Our leather shoes are made in a family-owned factory near Sao Joao da Madeira in Portugal. Portugal was a logical choice for Terhi because of its long history in shoe manufacturing and high quality craftsmanship.
The manufacturer is committed to working according to Terri Pölkki’s sustainable guidelines and values. The shoes are made using only locally sourced components and leather materials.
When choosing materials, what do you look for?
Our main material is cowhide, a by-product of the meat industry. Leather is a long-lasting, breathable and high-quality footwear material.
With the proper care, it’s very durable and thus reduces the environmental impact of our products. All the vegetable tanned leather we use in our shoes comes from Alcanena & Sao Vicente Pereira, Portugal.
Comfort also plays a big role in shoes – what makes a shoe especially comfortable?
My design philosophy is based on practicality. Longevity of shoes guarantees sustainability. I always start the design process by looking at the last. Also the fit is a very important part of my design process.
Shoes have to look beautiful and feel comfortable, otherwise they will be left unused. We make the environmental decisions for the customer when we design the shoes.
Sustainability doesn’t end with the sale. Is there anything we can do to consume more sustainably?
Choose well. Love your shoes. Make them last!
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