The Finnish have complicated relationship with homoerotic artist Tom of Finland. For years Touko Valio Laaksonen was something of an embarrassment with his dirty pictures. But as queer culture has moved to the mainstream, and an international audience has become obsessed with Laaksonen, the conservative Eastern European nation has thawed.
His home and haunts are stops on Helsinki walking tours. The biopic Tom of Finland was submitted as Finland’s entry this year in the Oscars’ Best Foreign-Language Film category. And the Finnish postal service even issued a set of risqué Tom of Finland postage stamps in 2014.
That same year, Finlayson, the country’s most renowned home textile brand, launched a line of housewares emblazoned with Laaksonen’s iconic he-men. (Full disclosure: My head rests nightly on Finlayson Tom of Finland pillowcases.)
Now the company is bringing a pop of color with its Tom of Finland “Street Style” collection, celebrating the club scene and inaugurating what’s being advertised as the first in series of annual Tom of Finland collections.
“Tom and his messages are more topical than ever, advocating human rights, sexual freedom, and respect,” says Finlayson CEO Jukka Kurttila. “Our new collection certainly does not leave anyone cold – it is bold and powerful, a great continuation of our range of Tom of Finland home textiles.”
The embrace of such an erotic figure is all the more impressive when you know Finlayson opened its doors in 1820 and still draws some very traditional customers. Designer Sami Vulli paired Laaksonen’s muscular men with strong splashes of color and graffiti, gracing duvet covers, pillowcases, tote bags, cushion covers, aprons, and towels.
“There is so much from a designer viewpoint to draw from in the Tom of Finland art,” Vulli says.
“We get to present his liberating artwork in home textiles, while simultaneously keeping up the important message of respect and freedom.”
To check out the full line visit, the Tom of Finland shop.