INVESTING IN QUALITY
30TH ANNIVERSARY SERIES
Marimekko was founded by Finnish entrepreneur Armi Ratia, who saw an opportunity in her husband’s textile business and a bright future for textile design. In 1951, Armi gathered promising young artists to design new and striking fabric prints. To showcase their work, Armi organized a fashion show with designer Riitta Immonen who revolutionized the restrictive fashion landscape of the time with flowing dresses in abstract patterns and bold colours. The event put Marimekko on the map and the dresses were sold on the spot. Translating to "a dress for Mary", Marimekko's liberating silhouettes and distinctive prints and colours continue to be embraced by today’s independent and informed modern woman.
When was the brand founded?
Marimekko was founded in 1951 by a visionary woman named Armi Ratia. In the turn of the 1950s, she invited young designers and artists to create striking prints and designs for her husband’s textile printing factory. The modern and avant-garde textiles were widely admired by Finns, but people did not really know what to do with them. Therefore, to inspire people to use them, Armi organized a fashion show in 1951. The enthusiastic audience bought the clothes off the models – and that is when Marimekko, translating as ‘Mary’s dress’ was born.
Why did you start designing?
I started designing because it was not easy for me to find clothes and looks that I would totally like. I noticed there were a lot of things that I wanted to change in clothing. As a teenager I made lots of my own clothes and modified old clothing like men´s shirts to fit myself. Around that time, I realized that I have a strong vision regarding clothing, and that designing could become a profession for me.
How do you define quality?
Quality is a sum of many things: style, patterning, colors, material choices… Ultimately, it’s about how the item stands the test of time. The number of fittings and careful product development always show in the final product. At Marimekko, we see prints as an important part of an item’s quality. Our prints are always developed from handmade sketches and made with loving precision. I think this is the secret recipe at Marimekko – valuing thorough work processes.
What's your favourite part of the design process?
I love the early research and sketching phase since anything can happen during that time! I also like the part when you first get to see the physical prototypes – that’s when the collection truly comes to life.
"Our prints are always developed from handmade sketches and made with loving precision, I think this is the secret recipe at Marimekko."
What do you like to do when you're not working?
When I am not working, I like to explore new places. This summer we went boating with my boyfriend in the Finnish archipelago. Living on a boat and so close to nature was super inspiring!
Who's your favourite author?
There are so many! I love to read biographies; I’m currently reading Grace Coddington´s A Memoir. Generally, the 60´s and 70´s are forever inspirations of mine.
What’s special about the production of your brand?
We print a lot of cotton fabrics here at our Helsinki textile printing factory – our headquarters are actually located in the same building. The Marimekko factory is one of the only industrial scale textile printing factories in the Nordic countries. It serves both as a factory and as an innovative hub for our creative teams. Prints play an important role in our products, and we spend a lot of time thinking about how to minimize waste without compromising on the final product too much. The larger the print scale is, the harder it is. I really enjoy working with big scale patterns together with the print designer to get the best result possible. When working with large-scale prints, all products look a bit different, but this is something to value! Every piece is unique!