Four years ago, with a finance background tempered by a beating artistic heart, Mika Ihamuotila took over Finnish fashion and textile brand Marimekko. He has not only a vision to restore the ideals and philosophies of its founder, Armi Ratia, but also to build on an economically viable future.
Created in 1951 and made famous by the bold artistic and graphic prints of the 60s and 70s, Marimekko has had its fair share of highs and lows, including near ruin in the early 90s. Some have credited HBO’s Sex and the City for restoring interest in the brand, after Carrie wore a Marimekko dress. But Ihamuotila believes it’s deeper than that. To his mind, it’s the original philosophy of the brand that continues to resonate with old and young.
At the heart of this is the notion that fashion should not be disposable – we should cherish our possessions and choose items (be they clothes or homewares) that enhance our personality and form part of our character. As people become more concerned about sustainability and the environment, the true DNA of Marimekko is ever more relevant.
As well as this, Marimekko is almost solely European. Three factories in Finland and others across the continent allow for 90 per cent of production to remain in Europe. A passionate believer in not separating design from manufacture, as most fashion houses do, Ihamuotila has worked hard to ensure the two arms of the business work together at Marimekko headquarters.
Sustainability is at the core of Marimekko’s vision. By eschewing trends and not advocating disposable fashion, the brand’s eco-credibility feels a lot stronger than other ‘green’ brands.
Marimekko today feels more vibrant than ever. While happy to draw on the brand’s rich heritage and endless lineage of archival prints, Ihamuotila is committed to driving the company forward.
Central to his plans has been an aggressive store roll-out, with Marimekko now housing more than 100 retail spaces world-wide. The Sydney store (which marks the brand’s 100th store) and Melbourne's Chapel Street and Emporium stores have been long in the planning, with Ihamuotila more than confident that Australia understands Marimekko’s sunniness.
All three stores will house the latest collections in textile and clothing design, as well as interior decoration items such as tableware, bags and other accessories.