Monday, February 22, 2010
Marimekko is a Finnish design company which is known for having vibrant fabrics and unusual designs. Marimekko was started in 1951 by a company named Printex, a company which produced oil cloth and fabrics which was bought by Viljo Ratia in 1949. It was Ratia's wife Armi who had the idea to commission young artists to come up with designs for the fabric. This lead to the production of bright and colorful textile designs. These designs were interesting, but confusing for the consumer to know how to use the unusual fabrics. Thus, Marimekko was born as a clothing label to show how the fabric might be used in clothing design. In 1951 the first Marimekko fashion show was held in Helsinki.
In the 1960s Marimekko gained popularity due to the fact that Jackie Kennedy had bought several dresses. At that time her image and style had become known worldwide. During this period product lines expanded and retail shops were opened. The jersey cotton designs of Annika Rimala for Marimekko could be seen prominently on the covers of fashion magazines and the everyday shirt-dress designs of Pentti Rinta gain popularity.
By the 1970s production became modernized and a new Marimekko factory in Helsinki was built which housed a printing press, a finishing department, and a warehouse. A clothing production factory was also built in Kitee Finland. The 70s also saw the birth of the Decembre (now incorporated into Marimekko) company which made smaller Marimekko products such as the popular canvas bags under head designer Ristomatti Ratia. In 1972 licensing agreements were made with Japan and the United States and by 1974 Marimekko was listed in the Helsinki stock exchange. Business was booming until founder Armi Ratia died in 1979.
The beginning of the 1980s business was still profitable, but unstable and in 1985 Marimekko was sold to Amer Group Ltd. Following the sale of Marimekko finances plummeted and the brand fell into disarray. In 1991 Marimekko was bought again this time, by Kirsti Paakanen's Workidea who breathed life back into the disheveled textile maker and the brand continues to grow and flourish today.