He has further distinguished himself as an educator, with an emphasis on guiding students to discover and embrace their unique voice while developing creative solutions in an ever-evolving industry.
In October 2020, Laitinen joined the faculty of Parsons Paris. Today he is director of the BFA Fashion Design and the MFA Fashion Design and the Arts programs.
“Your journey as a designer should begin with finding yourself,” Laitinen says. “You have to be able to listen and be true to yourself at the same time. You can’t come from a place of no. And you can’t come from a place of yes, either, all the time.”
Laitinen began to discover his own voice at Aalto University in Helsinki, in his native Finland, before moving to London, where he received an MA in Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins in 2004. Laitinen identifies this time in London, studying under
Louise Wilson, as the moment when he began to shape his own creative approach in finer detail.
Laitinen has applied his nuanced aesthetic style and voice to a broad range of interests, embracing fashion holistically and refusing to be satisfied with a single form of expression.
Shortly after Laitinen graduated from Central Saint Martins, he and his sister Anna started their eponymous menswear collection, Laitinen, which was shown on the official calendars of Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks. The line has been stocked by leading
retailers around the world.
Laitinen returned to Aalto University in 2006 as the school’s head of BA Fashion. Under Laitinen’s stewardship, a fashion outpost evolved into a global creative hub. Students from the program began working at the industry’s leading fashion houses, and
Aalto ranked among the top three fashion schools in the world, according to Business of Fashion.
In 2012, Laitinen co-founded SSAW, a fashion, art, and culture journal that publishes twice a year and has collaborated on special projects with industry leaders such as Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Diesel, Comme des Garçons/Dover Street Market, Pitti
Immagine Uomo, and Paco Rabanne.
While the magazine started as an homage to the designers Laitinen considered his own heroes and icons, it has evolved into something more. Laitinen has used his role as the magazine’s fashion director to champion emerging talent, creating a platform for
young designers, stylists, and photographers to showcase their work. The endeavor has had obvious benefits for students graduating from his fashion programs and immersing themselves in an industry that relies on close collaboration and a clearly articulated
media-ready creative vision.
At Parsons Paris, Laitinen will continue to nurture emerging fashion talent. His focus will be on helping students find their voice, unleash their creativity, and “identify their own brilliant solutions.”
“No matter where you are headed in fashion, from high-end to fast fashion, creativity is central,” Laitinen says of his approach. “You have to be able to recognize the special talent that every student has. Sometimes it’s being able to guide and support
the creative process and help them open their eyes to themselves as designers.”