Helsinki may be better known for its cold winters and design, but thanks to Liisa Jokinen and her Street Style Blog Hel Looks it has become a Street Style Capital.
Liisa Jokinen is not only the most succesful street style photographer to come out from Helsinki, but she also captured international attention over the years through publications like the Wall Street Journal, Vice Magazine and even Buzzfeed through Hel Looks. She has also inspired a generation of Finns, Hel Looks made them aware of their style and proud to express themselves and became a staple of Finnish Fashion. Before her, people in Finland thought Street Style was just for rich kids attending world class fashion weeks but she proved that creative and amazing styles can be found in the Capital region.
Finland is a very interesting Nordic Country when it comes to Street Style, self expression is high regarding clothes even if people are otherwise quiet. The styles we have seen in Hel Look over the years have become some sort of an encyclopedia of trends, style and Nordic Lifestyle in the Northern Capital.
There will be many street style photographers and blogs, but if you come from Finland you know who Liisa Jokinen is, after all she is the Godmother of Finnish Street Style .
We caught up with Liisa and asked her some questions about Hel Looks, her inspiration and the launch of SF Looks in California, prepare yourself to bask in Street Style knowledge…
Why did you decide to start doing street style?
Well I’ve been interested in street style since I was a little kid, and it was always my main style inspiration. I was a big fan of Shoicki Aoki / Fruits for example.
In July 2005 we were at the Accelerator music festival in Stockholm with my husband Sampo. I started admiring the style of young Swedes and thought how cool would it be to photograph them. But pretty soon I realized it is in Helsinki where I need to start documenting the streets. At that time Kiasma was a popular spot among glam rockers. I had been watching them the whole summer. I realized the styles in Helsinki are really unique, and that we should show them to the rest of the world. We still had two weeks left of our summer holiday and quickly set up a website and started taking pics, the first ones were taken outside Tuska festival.
What was the most difficult part of starting?
It was hard to explain the whole idea of street style / outfit pics when there were no other blogs like Hel Looks at that time. People were not so used to their picture taken. It’s very different now with Instagram, Snapchat etc.
Why did you choose Helsinki?
Because that was our home town.
What has been your favorite place to take pictures over the years?
Helsinki and Reykjavik.
What makes a great street style picture?
The person! He/she wears something that makes him/her feel him/herself. It is style, not necessarily fashion.
Is Hel Looks on a sabatical or is it ending?
It will never end, I’ve been updating the site every week since the beginning of June. I always take new pics when I visit Helsinki; unfortunately that is only 1-2 times a year for now.
Why San Francisco?
Because Sampo’s startup company was acquired by Facebook, and he started working for Facebook in April 2014. We are here for now but I could never stop taking street style pics so I launched SF Looks.
Who does it better the Helsinki People or San Franciscans?
I think you cannot say that either of them are better or worse, they are just very different. For me, street style photography is the best way of getting to know the city and its people, it’s a continuous exploration. I would take street style pics in any city. Helsinki is more homogeneous, whereas in SF you can meet people from all over the world. That makes the city super fascinating, unique and colorful. Helsinkians are more fashion-wise.
What advice do you have to street style photographers?
Follow your own taste and heart, do not try please or immitate anyone. Personality is the most powerful thing, and it will take you the furthest.
We thank Liisa for taking her time to answer our questions, we now leave you with some of the coolest people in Helsinki and San Francisco captured by Liisa for Hel Looks and SF Looks, enjoy!
Helsinkians from Hel Looks (Pictures from 2009-2015)
San Franciscans from SF Looks
Images Courtesy of Liisa Jokinen
Tags: Hel Looks, Helsinki, Street Style
Beto is a Freelance Fashion Photographer, Writer and Designer who works in Marketing for a Finnish Tech Startup. He was raised in Baja California, Mexico and lived all over North America before finally moving to Finland in 2009. He was held captive by Sauna, Nordic design and the Nordic lifestyle.
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