Clothes Fashion

50 Years of Finnish Brilliance: Marimekko

Unikko2+Maija+Isola

By Diane Small

Let’s face it–when you think of Finland, you probably don’t think much of crayon-box colours, mini dresses or oversized flowers. Unless you’re thinking of Marimekko, that is.

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The Finnish fashion and lifestyle brand  has built a bright, graphic image over the last fifty years, demonstrating that rather than slavishly following trends, style can be expressed through timeless design passed down through the generations.

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Founded in 1962 by Armi Ratia, the company’s ethics were solid from the beginning, as Ratia constructed the Marimekko Village in which to house her employees and to function as a communal laboratory for product design.

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When  environmental and ethical challenges arose with the brand’s expansion around the globe, the company joined the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), an international multi-stakeholder initiative aiming at making global cotton production better for not only the people who produce it, but also the environment, too.

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They also chose to manufacture their textiles under the Öko-Tex Standard 100 and REACH: the first guarantees that the products have been tested against harmful substances to people or the environment, whereas the latter assures the company only purchases chemicals from European manufacturers and importers who operate under EU regulations.

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So, when Marimekko celebrated the 50th anniversary of its most iconic pattern, Unikko, last year, they did so knowing the company’s ecological record was just as bright as the flowers on the pattern. Designed in 1964 by Maija Isola, brightly beautiful Unikko – also know as Poppy – has been the basis for everything from tableware to umbrellas, bedding to clothing, all of which have felt fresh throughout the passing decades.

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Though Marimekko can often be hard to find internationally, the brand has just created a capsule collection for Banana Republic that should be able to bring a bit of Finnish brilliance to anyone around the world.



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