Marimekko Is Not Just About Keeping Up With Fashion Trends! Exclusive Interview With Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko |

June 25,2021

“The key to keeping a brand with a long history and heritage vibrant is to have the courage to always interpret its original DNA in the spirit of the times, yet in a timeless way.” Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko (pictured below), President of Finnish fashion brand Marimekko.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Marimekko. With its bold prints and bright color combinations, Marimekko has been Finland's No.1 local fashion brand since 1951. Marimekko’s mission has always been to empower people to be happy as they are, and bring joy to their everyday lives through bold prints and colors--the Marimekko art of printmaking. Since 1951, when the design house was established, their unique and recognizable design language has developed by walking between the boundaries between art, design, fashion and architecture.

"Marimekko Is Not Just About Keeping Up With Fashion Trends"

Timeless design is the key for Marimekko. Timelessness, highlighted by the founder Armi Ratia in 1978: "Marimekko has nothing to do with fashion trends. We focus on how to create designs that will not go out of fashion and products that will last for a long time. Only those that will survive over time can be called real fashion."

Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko told Luxe.CO that at Marimekko, the brand puts a lot of effort into understanding the everyday lives, needs and preferences of customers around the world. By combining those insights with their fresh vision, the team builds collections with a strong contemporary feel, sharp and coherent design expression and detailing, and  variety in the materials to cater to the different climates and moments in people’s lives. This could mean showcasing a renowned print in a completely new way or context. or reinterpreting iconic dresses from the past into contemporary expressions.

Marimekko has a creative community consisting of an in-house design team and a group of freelance designers, led by Marimekko’s Creative Director Rebekka Bay. The in-house team creates collections and invites freelance designers to participate. Each designer has his own complementary field of expertise to complete the design of a full range of clothing, bag accessories and home furnishing lines.

What's more, Marimekko's design team works closely with product development and printing experts. Designers often work with printing and color experts, an integral part of Marimekko's creative culture. The fabric printing house is not only a production base, but also a creative center for the brand.

"Sustainability Has Been Our Working Routine For Many Years"

“Marimekko’s operations and design philosophy have always been rooted in timelessness and longevity, and the advancement of sustainability has been an integral part of our daily work for years already.”Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko said.

Currently, about two-thirds of Marimekko's products are produced in the European Union. In order to improve product transparency, the label of every Marimekko product includes information such as the materials used in the product and the place where it was made.

In order to guide customers towards sustainable consumption, Marimekko offers a variety of disposal suggestions on its website, including resale, donation, barter, recycling, upgrading and so on. In 2019, Marimekko launched "Behind the Patterns," a monthly Q&A session that answers customers' questions about product design, sustainability, product traceability, and more.

“As a result of continuous development work and emission offsetting, our operations were already carbon neutral in 2020, which we are very happy about. Furthermore, we have, for example, for years actively participated in the development of new, more sustainable materials, reduced plastics in our packaging, significantly decreased waste from our own operations, collaborated with second-cycle/resale services and launched new care guides to help maximize the lifetime of Marimekko products.” Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko added.

Recently, Marimekko has developed a natural indigo dye, which is derived from the leaves of Dyer’s Woad (Isatis tinctoria ), a native plant of Finland. This indigo dye will be used across the full range of clothing, handbags and home products that will be launched later this summer.

“From Finland To The World”

Since 2010, Marimekko has invested heavily into global expansion, opening flagship stores in New York, Tokyo and other cities. Currently, Marimekko has 154 stores worldwide.

Marimekko is optimistic about the development opportunities in the Chinese market. In 2012, the brand officially entered China. At present, it operates over a dozen stores in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Hong Kong. In 2019, it opened Tmall flagship stores and entered the WeChat platform.

Regarding future growth in the APAC region, Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko said that she expects the net sales in the APAC region to increase and the majority of the planned Marimekko store and shop-in-shop openings will be in Asia.

On the development of the China market, she pointed out: "The coronavirus pandemic has changed and is still changing consumer behavior of an increasing number of consumers, including new consumer groups, shifting to online channels. In the coming years, Marimekko's focus in the China market will be on both brand awareness and omnichannel business. In addition to opening a few stores in existing cities, we are also looking to see if there are suitable store opportunities in other cities."

In addition, as people spend more time at home after the Coronavirus pandemic , Marimekko saw the expanding trend of the home furnishing market and launched a home furnishing series in the Tmall flagship store, which received positive response from Chinese customers.

“Brand Cross-over To Create Surprises For Consumers”

In addition to designing and developing its own products, Marimekko has continued to push boundaries in recent years by collaborating with a wide variety of well-known brands to create innovative co-branded products.

Since 2018, Marimekko has launched a limited-edition collaboration with Uniqlo for four consecutive years. In May this year, Uniqlo just released the Uniqlo×Marimekko Spring/Summer 2021 limited-edition collaboration.

In 2018, Marimekko worked with the cosmetics brand Clinique to redesign their product packaging.

At the end of May, to celebrate the brand’s 70th anniversary, Marimekko launched its first cross-over collection with sports brand Adidas.

How does Marimekko choose brands for cross-over collaboration? Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko explains: "Marimekko is a very inclusive brand and we believe in togetherness and in enriching collaborations.  We collaborate with partners with whom we are able to create together something truly special and even surprising for customers by combining our unique design DNA with the partner’s core expertise. Top level brand collaborations offer us opportunities to increase Marimekko’s international brand awareness and introduce our brand to new audiences. "

On the 70th anniversary of the brand, in addition to cross-border collaboration, Marimekko published an art book titled "Marimekko: The Art of Printmaking" through Thames & Hudson earlier this year. In addition, Tiina revealed to us that by the end of this year Marimekko will open an online print library Maripedia, which will publish the brand's more than 3,500 printing patterns.

| Photo Credit: Marimekko

| Writer: Chloe Zuo, Lilian Sun


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