I <3 Marks & Sparks

You know. I like to think I’m somewhat conscious consumer. I buy what I use and think about the ethical consequences, within my own means of course. But I do appreciate good business too. I can much easier justify spending money on clothes and support textile industry because the materials for those you can re-grow over and over again, where as for smartphones…Once the metallic is dug up, it’s not replenishing itself.

This same goes for all kinds of packaging. I like well designed packaging and I think ALL the packaging in the world should be designed well. Once you use any kind of natural resource, you should use it the best possible way and the sum of all the parts should always be bigger than the basic cost! Nice surroundings and things create nice people.

With these thoughts…Let me tell you how excited I am about MARKS & SPENCER OPENING THEIR FIRST STORE IN FINLAND!!!

Note: This is not an advertisement. I haven’t received any compensation from M&S. I’m just a huge fan of British high street.

marks & spencer helsinki

Last Saturday, after the demonstration against #TTIP (yes, I’m aware of the irony but ethics and business are not mutually exclusive things), I bumped into a friend of mine and convinced him to accompany me to the newly opened store. (I had a good reason for this. I knew I was going to get all kinds of fashion fan-girly embarrassing once in the store. Needed support and backup).

My swooning started already at the entrance. The huge bouquet and dim lighting immediately gave me a feeling of luxury. Me? A luxury buyer? Yes! Please! Butter me up! Butter me up!

marks & spencer Helsinki

The ground floor has the more expensive (still reasonably priced) M&S- brands like Autograph and Per Una. I kept bouncing from one display to one another because I loved every single outfit. This orange coat with the plaid dress with electric blue highlights is a perfect example of everyday luxury that just oozes confidence, style and good taste. And oh glorious…I checked the dress on the hanger and there seems to plenty of room for hips & butt. Praise the English and their pear-shaped lower bodies. Now in Finland!

marks & spencer Helsinki, footwear

The British have perfected the smart casual office style. Even the shoes have details that make sensible shoes cute and sexy. And the price point…I found black ballerinas, leather, with those hidden heels that make ballerinas good shoes instead flat, feet killers for 60 euros! SIXTY EUROS! Usually I have to pay over 100 for them.

M&S has four floors and they are shared with the Finnish department store Sokos. However it’s clear what’s M&S-space and what’s not. There’s signage and of course the presentation is much more well thought:

MarksSparks4

I took a separate tour to the Sokos-side so I could get a full shot of this:

marks & spencer Helsinki

Me and my friend just kept nodding and repeating “they know how to sell, they know how to sell”. Even the music supports this. Very cool, very danceable and very, very selling. It was the kind of music that makes you want you to put your best face and clothes on and go out. M&S (and H&M among others) gets it. Even if I’m buying period panties, I don’t want to think that I HAVE to buy something. I want to want it.

Even the men’s wear department got me all excited.I mean, look at this display:

marks & spencer Helsinki, men's wear

If a guy wearing any of those looks, smelling really good came to me and said even so much a hello, I would put out. Yes, I said it because it needs to be said. A smartly dressed man is same to a woman as a half-naked woman is to a man. Suit catalogs are porno for women.

I have a feeling a lot of men in Helsinki will be finding Marks & Spencer-clothing in their Christmas-socks. Men, if you do, take the hint.

Anyhoo, on the same floor is also a small food section. It mainly has biscuits, candies and other packed snack foods. Do I even need to tell you my excitement level here? If you, like me, are package enthusiast, you love this section. Every single thing in here is such that you can give it as a gift. Even if it’s cheap, the packaging itself makes it a special and more thoughtful gift than, let’s say a TV-mix, from a regular store. Bonus is that you get the fantastic shopping experience.

I bought some chocolate covered honeycomb crunch thingies. Delicious. I joked with the sales assistant that this was my breaking point. After buying this one thing, I won’t be able to stop shopping there :D

My only negative thought is that M&S was brought to Finland by S-Group. S-Group is one of the two chains that control 80% of Finland’s food retail (and presumably a lot of other retail too since they own any kind of retail chain possible), so M&S is not really new competition. That also probably prevents them from opening a full scale M&S food retail space because S-Group wouldn’t want anyone new on their turf. Although the basement of the building where M&S now resides, already has a grocery store and the space would be perfect for M&S.

What comes to the fashion retail, I think the biggest blow will be for Stockmann (that’s the “better” department store in Helsinki). Their clients are more international and they have learned to shop at M&S when abroad. M&S clothes are also better priced and like I said, feel very luxurious. But then again, M&S brought much needed newness to the Helsinki- fashion and shopping scene and could bring everyone’s sales up. From an artistic and designer’s point of view, it’ fantastic have a place where I can get international inspiration. Patterns, cuts, displays…Hopefully an endless treasure trove.

Edited to add: The opening hours Mon-Fri 9-21, Sat 9-18, Sun 12-18

-Thrifty Finn-

P.S. When I got to the lingerie department, the first thing I asked from the manager was that do you have the multi-packs? They did:

marks & spencer Helsinki

H&M just lost about 30-50 euros of business per year from me.

 

I <3 Marks & Sparks

The Language Barrier

Warning. This post will be the reason why I go to hell when I die. Please, proceed.

You know. Branding is very important. You want your brand to evoke feelings, emotions and memories and hopefully turn those into sales. Some people might spend years to develop their brand before they dare to start a business. There’s so much to take in consideration. Style, colours, fonts and the most important, the name. You want something memorable and something that rolls easily off the tongue.

Personally, I love many brands. I have my favourites in craft supplies, cosmetics and fashion but I do like to like brands even if I don’t personally buy anything from them. Children’s wear for example.

Kulli, knitwear, kids

Kulli is, I think, a Spanish, indie knitwear maker. Isn’t he a cutie? And the logo looks fantastic! How about this one:

molo, children's wear, logo

Molo is a Danish company and they have very cool philosophy behind their clothes. And the clothes do look very cool too:

molo clothing

You might be wondering, why would she go to hell? This is just a post about children’s wear brands.

LET ME TELL YOU WHY!

It’s a post about two children’s wear brands whose names mean PENIS in Finnish! Not even pretty penis names. They mean DICK! Dick in its ugliest forms!

GOD! Didn’t they check when they were branding? Didn’t they Google? HORROR! There we have Molo brand logo with the word PENIS and the handprint next to it. Then the kid is wearing a shirt that effectively says “Raised by a PENIS”. And Kulli? That’s the word you use of penis when someone sends you a d*ck pic via social media.

Yeah, I maybe burning in hell for all the eternity for telling you about this but people need to know:

WHEN BRANDING, TAKE YOUR TIME WHEN CHOOSING THE NAME.

-Thrifty Finn-

Edited to add…P.S. The shirt the boy is wearing is named Casual Whisper. The creep level just went through the roof.

 

 

 

 

The Language Barrier

Marimekko. Conclusions.

marimekko, copyright, scandal
Image via Marimekko.fi

What a week. In my last post I talked about Mika Ihamuotila’s TV-interview, which didn’t go too well for him. If you remember, he got caught by surprise when the journalist showed him the picture from 1960’s. He still stayed in his position that no copying had happened but about 8 hours later, the company released a statement saying that Maija Louekari’s design was inspired by the Markku Leppo’s photograph.

I’ve linked to Kritiikkiblogi several times during my Marimekko-reporting, as he writes and argues more intelligently than most people (I included). His analysis of Hetkiä/Moments print is brutal and he says about the birth:

Maija Louekari’s drawing was born most likely like this:

1. Competition for young designer gets 21-year old student of Taik all excited
2. Louekari gets an idea to use a cityscape as a basis of her work
3. Urban Sketching is no longer in the curriculum of Taik, so she proceeds to the direction of Taik-library
4. She takes few photography books from the shelf, section 75 Graphics, Photography
5. Book by Markus Leppo, Helsinki ja helsinkiläiset 1966, is found.
6. The other copied photographs are found next to Leppo’s book, which “inspires” Louekari and she then proceeds to trace through even more winning images.
7. The (competition) win brings a profession, honour and glory.

About the technical aspects of Hetkiä he says:

My suspicions were raised by three issues: Urban Sketching-experience, pictures of different cities and few car details. Louekari wasn’t outside herself, in different cities, sketching and drawing. She traced through, which you can see in the closing patterns, even line thickness and the closing elements on the front that cover the backgrounds.

He finishes off with following conclusions:

-Marimekko’s CEO is constantly deceived by designers’ art ‘loans’, deceptions of birth of the art and covering up the chain of events.
-Marimekko’s communication manager betrayed the CEO: Mika Ihamuotila went to the interview armed with false information, wrong attitude to design and searching pity. The communication manager did a company-wide murder/suicide (with her actions).
-Marimekko’s owners are amazed how it’s main value giver, meaning artistic quality and value, is totally disregarded by its design directors as well as management.
-Marimekko’s creative direction has completely lost its way. (Kemell-Kutvonen and Karske)
-University of Art & Design and its teachers are, in their part, supporting the copying and stealing the birth of art when birthing art
-For years, has Louekari been aware of the copied Hetkiä-print on Barcelona-bags but haven’t defended her rights. Louekari has been avoiding confronting the bag because she herself copied her work by changing it, meaning covering the origin of her work. This proves a small feeling of shame and difficult forthcoming for a period of 10 years
-Marimekko may have intentionally adopted one of the main points of Moorhouse-effect, meaning, the deliberate covering of the birth of art. The picture from Esplanadi was taken, just in case, if someone asks after the background story.

When the second statement from Marimekko was released, it didn’t take long before industry people began arguing that copying happens all the time and it’s just the way things are. However, during Kristina Isola and Metsänväki-scandal, the union for designers, Ornamo, told in YLE-news that “designers rarely copy” but from the comments I’ve seen, designers in Finland do NOTHING but copy. Someone even tweeted that her design teacher said that nothing new can be made anymore, everything is done. I say, stop talking like this. You are arguing for running the design education to the ground and yourselves out of work.

Another aspect is that this past 6 months has been a steep learning curve for Finnish companies when it comes to communicating with the outside world. Marimekko has been making mistake after mistake, showing arrogance and disregard to their clients and fans in every turn. One of my Twitter-followers, Sami Sundell, sums things up in his blog: “It doesn’t matter at all how things are done within the business. You are not communicating to the insiders but to the audience.” He then proceeds with a comment about another tweet: “In a way Mika Porspakka is right: copyright isn’t necessarily relevant in this case. It doesn’t change the fact that there is a need for discussion in the topic itself and the industry standards.”

 

I will finish this off with one last quote from Kritiikkiblogi:

Supporting Marimekko is important. It won’t happen by staying silent and approving questionable methods for making art and creating. Support comes from harsh analysis and by presenting radical ideas.

Thrifty Finn- Wondering about the little bag from Barcelona that started this all.

P.S. I have another blog, Thrifty Finn’s Investigations & Opinions, where I wrote about various interesting topics. I know, I know. It’s ridiculously pompous name, but hey, being ridiculous and pompous are not reserved only for the men.

P.P.S. It’s hard to believe that paid professionals can’t create original content if us crafters do that shit constantly. For free.

 

 

Marimekko. Conclusions.

Inspirations! Who? What? Where?

mika ihamuotila, marimekko, rovio
Image via MTV3.fi

I had my alarm clock on this morning so I could watch the Ihamuotila-interview on MTV3. I couldn’t get my eyes open. Thank heavens, there’s social media and I found abundant of links to the clip. The gist of the interview was that Marimekko and Louekari deny all the accusations:

Where’s the line between plagiarism and inspiration? “Looks like traced through baking paper”

In today’s Huomenta Suomi, the host Jesse Kamras showed Iltalehti‘s image to Marimekko CEO Mika Ihamuotila. Below is translated version of the original transcript found in here.

Kamras: This mystical Barcelona-bag and Maija Louekari’s Moments-print, yeah, there’s a picture in Iltalehti from 1960’s. By photographer Markus Lepo of Esplanadi. You could almost say it’s traced through baking paper so where is the line between plagiarism and inspiration?

Ihamuotila: It usually is, sometimes you move in a gray area. Sometimes it’s like a line in water, sometimes it’s hard to say. But usually it’s quite clear if it’s original inspiration, which is no where near any other work, so then you talk about a work of art that’s individual and original. -But this piece, you brought up right now, is it from today’s paper? It’s incomprehensible. That’s Maija Louekari’s one of a kind and original description of Esplanadi. And then some spanish bag manufacturer copied that and now Finnish press is claiming, based on a rumor that that (ours) is copied from that.

Kamras: But if you lay the Moments-print on top of the image, it’s one on one but is, is it inspiration?

Ihamuotila: For goodness sake, history of the world is filled with amazing but abstract works, based on views. And that is completely original and in my opinion very fabulous, that Maija Louekari’s original piece.

Well, I received a link here in comments and on Twitter, to this blogpost from 2011 and specifically to this picture:

esplanadi, markus lepo, marimekko, louekari
Image via mikasavela.tumblr.com

Yup. I’d say that’s definitely the original. The photo is by Markus Lepo and can be found in a book from 1960’s. Mika Savela says in his blog that the book’s name loosely translates as “Helsinki and it’s people”. He then proceeds to discuss about how it is cool that this image and the city life in it, “trickled down” through decades and found their way into various products:

mika savela, marimekko, hetkiä
Image via mikasavela.tumblr.com

You should go and read the full post HERE at mikasavela.tumblr.com. He writes in English.

So what does this mean to the copy claims? Well, it still could mean that the photo was made originally into a print by the spanish company. Marimekko’s defenders say that every designer have lots of inspiration pictures and after a while they blur together and so on. I say it’s entirely possible that a Spanish  designer bought copy of the book on some holiday to Finland. I have my share of vintage photo books from abroad for exactly this reason. They are cheap and they are cute.

It’s also possible that Marimekko did the print first. However, we have an iffy beginnings story. In yesterday’s statement we saw sketches of city views but we didn’t see the original concept board/images they were based on. In such, using vintage/retro tourist images for a basis IS a fun concept. However, now it’s too late for Marimekko to say that it was their original intention as they didn’t say so originally.

Marimekko’s defenders have jumped on the poor woman who brought up the similarities between the bag and the Marimekko-print. Questioning her background and whatnot. I’ve responded to them and I write it down here too: It doesn’t matter what her background is. She can be drug addict, disease-riddled prostitute but it doesn’t change the facts if the bag is older than Marimekko’s Hetkiä. Even if it turns out that Marimekko was copied, still, all she did was that she brought it up and even then, it’s good for Marimekko because then they can start legal proceedings against the Spanish company.

Now, all we have to do is found out the manufacturer of the bag. Then this will be solved. (Well, not for Marimekko. They have serious problems with their creative, business and communication processes).

Thrifty Finn- Loosing Twitter-followers faster than I can type Marimekko :D

P.S. I will be back to regular blogging soon ;)

 

 

Inspirations! Who? What? Where?

There’s a Fifth One

marimekko, louekari, plagiaatti, Helsinki
Image via YLE.fi

Half an hour ago, YLE posted this.  A reader had contacted about a purse she had bought in Barcelona in 2001. Right, a print ‘Hetkiä’ by Maija Louekari from 2003.

I don’t know what to say anymore. Except that Maija won a design competition organized together with Marimekko and University of Art & Design Helsink (TAIK) with this print. And all the designers busted have graduated there. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the design education in Finland? Hmm?

Thrifty Finn- Wishing…wishing…wishing…That she could do something about this.

Related articles

There’s a Fifth One