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Marimekko at 70: marching to its own beat

If you grew up in Finland, chances are that at some point during your childhood you might have worn stripy, polkadot assemble from Marimekko? Maybe in some rather unusual colour combination (hello, brown/orange/dark green), yes? Or maybe you had bold Unikko (poppy) patterned curtains adorning your living room? Or perhaps you drank your morning coffee/tea/milk from a colourful Marimekko mug? Most of us Finns are loyal fans of our beloved Marimekko and are still holding on to our favourite dresses and shirts passed from generations to the next. And there lies the Marimekko magic: timeless design to celebrate and elevate the every day.

For those of us living abroad, I still get excited when I see someone wearing Marimekko. We exchange a knowing smile, perhaps even a few words. A wink. There's a certain recognition: you too belong to a special tribe. You walk differently when you wear Marimekko: a head held high you glide proudly wearing your loudest patterned dress and people won't help but think: 'who is SHE'?

Armi Ratia, the woman behind Marimekko.

For 70 years, Marimekko has stayed true to its vision of celebrating a beautiful and joyful life everyday.

Marimekko 'freed' women from the tight, restrictive dresses of the 50's and brought playfulness and fun -- hello pockets! - to women's fashion.

Armi Ratia, a visionary leader

Marimekko was founded in 1951 by Viljo and Armi Ratia, after the Viljo's oil-cloth factory project failed and was converted to a garment plant. Armi asked some artist friends to apply their graphic designs to textiles. Most notable being Finnish design icons of Vuokko Nurmesniemi and Maija Isola. The two designers created hundreds of distinctive patterns and helped to make Marimekko a household name across the world. Many of the patterns are still in production today; most notably, Isola's famous Unikko pattern.

To this day, Marimekko has stayed true to its core value of creating a bold, creative life and celebrating the every day. Marimekko has always been an experimental risk taker – marching to its own beat. Today many of the company's leadership positions are filled with women who are showing the way to the next generation of Marimekko lovers around the world partnering with likes of Nike, Uniqlo and Target. Kudos to Marimekko for fearlessly marching forward and "boldly following their internal beacon".

Turning 70, is a mighty achievement – Armi would be proud.

Here's to another 70!

Source and images: Wikipedia


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