Finnish Streetwear Pioneers - Tuomas Vuorensola
Subject: Tuomas Vuorensola
We are back with more Streetwear Pioneers and this time around we had the honor of catching up with the OG himself: Tuomas Vuorensola, who has been affiliated with Finnish streetwear culture ever since the early days.
Kicking things off, how did you first engage with clothing?
I blame my dad for everything in my life...from clothing to music to footwear and for my attitude toward life in general. He was an international player in the sport fashion business when I was a small muppet growing up and I was exposed to a lot of cool stuff on early age. When my parents divorced, I was 6 years old and my pops moved to Hong Kong and that was a major turning point for my soon to come obsession towards footwear and clothing. Just to be able to run alone thru those endless shopping malls and alleys that Hong Kong has to offer at such a young age was amazing experience. That is also the city where I visited first time in my life a real skate and bmx store in Kowloon. After that it was a game over for me.
You’ve been breaking bread with NYC OG’s already back in the mid90’s. How did this happen for a Finnish youngster without any form of social media or other networking capabilities?
Skateboarding plays major part in everything that has happened for me thru the years. Being able to travel with homies and living like vagrant was a blessing. 90´s were crucial time in skateboarding and lot´s of legends were on on the come up at that point. Spending time in citys like SF, D.C., SD and NYC in mid 90´s were the places were you cross paths with those dudes. especially if you rolled proper blunts. Everything was so small back then and even the top pros were on some real skaterat shit. Selling weed, boards and clothing at the legendary skate spots. Organic street level networking. Hahahahahaaaa.. I was also working as a store manager and buyer at Union Five store when we opened the doors at Erottaja location in 96. We did some business trips to trade shows and met even more legends on that trip.
You’re one of the reasons Converse is as big at is now in Finland. What lead you to Converse?
Thank you for the compliment! Hefty paycheck and big company perks took me under. Those 6 years were crazy.
Grey Market Supply was one of the most up-to-date stores in Finland during that era. Was there a specific factor that influenced opening the store?
At first we were talking about starting a clothing brand and then I saw perfect storefront at lasipalatsi...hahahaaaa. It escalated quickly to the point where we had keys and contract in our hands and full renovation going on. I had some connections and we were able to pull out brands that were not available in caliroots. Few trips to US, solid business plan and vision what to do helped us make some noise in the Finnish and international market.
If it wasn’t the clothing industry, which area would you have most likely specialized in?
A Chef specialized in Guangdong cuisine.
Working heavily on importing different brands to the Finnish scene - has there been a specific brand that you had a sentimental attachment that ruled out other brands?
I feel more attached to people behind the brands that the actual brands. But if I have to say one then it is Gourmet. Greg´s and Jon were doing some groundbreaking at that time in the footwear business as an independent company. Pushing giants and playing with fire. We were blessed to be one of the first stores to have it in Europe.
Apart from social media, which other channels do you use for searching news regarding urban culture?
I don´t use any...Hahahahahaaaa… I try to avoid all the hypebeast and highsnobiety type of sites. I read some music news and some business of fashion type of stuff once in a while, but thats that. I made a conscious choice in 2008 to stop following so called hype sites. I think it had negative effect on my creative side. Urban culture for me is a lifestyle. You live and breath it 24/7.
Can you tell us something about your musical alter ego Tarbash Luoti?
Tarbash Luoti is the ultimate hustler. Half man / half animal. His stories smells like cocaine and Jameson whiskey. He is rarely rapping, since he is living life to fullest somewhere in itä-helsinki. Once in awhile he sits down with homies and drinks few cold beers and let some steam out verbally. Lately he’s been in studio few times and there is going to be some violent punchlines to be heard soon. Tarbash was born in mid 90´s as a columnist for Finnish lifestyle mag called Flashback. He was harassing readers with disturbed answers to their letters that were sent to to the Flashback office. After awhile came weekend long “pussikalja” cyphers with Celes (Davo) and we did some rotten demo for BMG record company in late 90´s, but felt that we were too real to compromise on our artistic side of thing and we were not ready to make any commercial changes they were suggesting. There was too much Maurice Malone and Karl Kani on the market at the moment and I felt that your acquired flavour and taste was better to keep on the hush.
What’s your favorite vintage car?
Fuuuck...right now it is either Fiat Panda 4x4 STEYR PUCH or Lancia Delta HF integrale Futurista.
Name your top 3 albums of all time.
Unfair question...but if I were stuck in elevator for 1 week I could easily survive with these albums: Fleetwood Mac: Dreams Nas: Illmatic Herbie Hancock: Headhunters
Can you tell us about Foghorn?
Group of friends who has skateboarded together for 30 years. We made some tshirt and Finlands first commercial skateboarding video in 90´s, but after some of the OG members spread to the other paths we created the Control / CTRL skateboards. Now we have done some skate/surf trips and produced more rags to fund our hobby and our future crusades.
What’s your favorite travel destination?
I want to go to JAMAICA!
Favorite food joints in Helsinki?
I´ve had some good meals at Wino, Mei lin and McDonalds.
What are your three goto pieces of your wardrobe?
Sweatpants, hoodies and sneakers.
Which are your favorite Finnish brands and/or designers?
Sasu Kauppi is a dreamer. Sasta keep you alive in the woods. Marimekko will blow up.
What’s your favorite sneaker?
Oh lord…some many era and vibes…80´s either Jordan 1 Royal since those were 1 of my first skate shoes or Adidas Kareem Abdul Jabbar Hi all white…that was a b-boy choice late 80´s. We would crack open the side sticking to make them look more fatter and added some fat laces to keep the look really cartoonish. Hahahahahaaaa!
90´s I have to go with Jordan 6 blk/infrared and Air Max CB 94 OG´s.
Lately when I have started to turn to grey and sore I´I’ve been mostly rocking New Balance 991 and 990. Strictly built for elder wanderers.