Tag Archives: fashion

Marimekko. Between The Last News & Today.

Unikko 50 years, Marimekko, design

Image via marimekko.fi

Here we are. Hopefully at the end of this Marimekko-saga. Year 2013 was rough for the company. It’s reputation was in the crapper and they didn’t seem be to able to do anything right. So what has Marimekko done to get things fixed?

On September 30th last year they announced that Marimekko will no longer to collaborate with Kristina Isola. However, in the same breath they continued that her daughter Emma Isola WILL stay at the company. As one commenter on the Helsingin Sanomat-article said:

“Seems like a fixed deal. Mother ‘quit’s but daughter continues. How does it differ from before?”

Then another one builds on the work of Kritiikkiblogi, who made a case of nepotism in Finnish art & design education (I’m translating some Finnish expressions here and quite badly):

“Safety net jobs for the whole family. It’s just the way of the country and about the good sister-network. Hundreds of design professionals are trained in the adult daycare centers, and the few job opportunities go like this…I thought that the Helsinki University of Art & Design/Aalto Yliopisto had the market on nepotism (ex-dean and his children’s safety net jobs, the managerial positions and companies started within the university) but apparently not.”

Ow. The comments on various websites and other news articles played the same tune. I studied in Holland were there are frequently open design jobs but in Finland, they are few and far between. Not to mention, the problems with Finnish art school application system. In Finland there is emphasis on drawing skills and when you apply, you have to make three artworks. One with pencil, one with watercolour and one with whatever. Subjects change but the techniques… Never. Getting in depends on one very specific skill that doesn’t tell anything about person’s overall artistic skills and visions. Kritiikkiblogi wrote extensively about this system HERE (in Finnish).

Marimekko, business, art, design, layoffs, market, sale

Image via taloussanomat.fi

Then came some good news…In January, Marimekko published the news that they would be collaborating with Banana Republic. The collection will have 25 pieces and Marimekko told that it will significantly increase their licensing income. But that didn’t stop these news…

In February, Marimekko announced layoffs. There was a mini scandal when Mika Ihamuotila tweeted (and later deleted) a picture from a meeting with a text about nice textiles etc. and it turned out it was from the meeting they decided about the layoffs. For some weird reason, people thought it was tad tacky ;) They made the announcement at the same time with the news of opening of another 15-25 stores around Asia and North America. The only department safe from the layoffs is the Helsinki fabric printery. Which is positive as they seem to want to keep on at least some of their skilled workers.

And now to the BIG news…

Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, Marimekko, creative director, art, design

Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, image via yle.fi

In February, Marimekko made another announcement. They were going to move Minna Kemell-Kutvonen away from the Creative Director position and she will now be the Head of Pattern Design (well, we all know how well that worked before…) Then they launched a search for new Creative Director and today the news broke that the new CD will be Anna Teurnell from H&M!  She is the design director at the women’s fashion brand & Other Stories, which is owned by H&M.

This is all kinds of exciting, Anna Teurnell was part of the team that created Marimekko for H&M-collection few years back and I think she will bring the much needed sex appeal into the designs. Not that large print muumuu’s aren’t sexy but…They really aren’t. I have my doubts though. There’s a little sentence in the press release that makes me think that this change isn’t really going to change the corporate culture and subsequently the design process:

“Anna Teurnell’s artistic vision, internation experience and Nordic background are a great combination to help us to meet our high ambitions. I am also pleased that Minna Kemell-Kutvonen will now be concentrating on further strengthening our core competence, print design.”

So they get a new Creative Director (in fact they used the words Marc, Jacobs and visionary in their search) who is supposed to bring in all these new ideas in BUT you still separate your “core competence” from these new ideas. Marimekko potentially ties up Anna’s hands before she has even begun working there. And has Minna Kemell-Kutvonen showed any skill regarding print & pattern management before? Nothing in this entire story has shown any regard for other people’s talent either from her part. But we’ll see. Anna Teurnell will begin working there in July, so we won’t see her handiwork until 2015. If it’s any good as this sneak peek from the Banana Republic-collection, we are in for a treat:

Marimekko for Banana Republic

Image via Luckymag.com

See! No muumuus anywhere! I hope I don’t have to add anything to this story ever again and the next story about Marimekko will be about how I want to buy something from them or they have done something exciting design-wise. Fingers crossed.

Thrifty Finn- Feeling like she has given everything she has to this story

Related reading:

Sweet Mother of 90s

90s, floral, flowers, fashion, style, music

Original image via calibakers.com

I’m continuing with some more news about Finnish popular culture…The other week, Finnish Broadcasting Company asked around in social media for people’s favourite 90′s songs. Today they announced the list, with some comments. My favourite:

When I heard this song for the first time at the youth association disco, it blew this heavy rocker’s mind. You wanted to dance even if you didn’t have the skill and knew that heavy rocker wasn’t supposed to like electronic music.

The song he was talking about was of course Prodigy’s No Good:

What was interesting that Spice Girls, Oasis or Blur didn’t make the list. The reason was that the votes for them went to several different songs. Personally I think that ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ should have been there but maybe next time they can make a TOP 10 90s girl/boyband-song list. Backstreet Boys’ ‘Everybody’ being the number 1 of course. Anyhoo, the TOP 10 90s songs (with links to respective videos) according to Finnish people are:

  1. Nirvana: Smells Like Teen Spirit
  2. Deee-Lite: Groove Is In The Heart
  3. The Cranberries: Zombie
  4. Guns’N’Roses: November Rain
  5. Haddaway: What Is Love
  6. Queen: Show Must Go On
  7. Culture Beat: Mr. Vain
  8. Suede: Trash
  9. The Prodigy: No Good (Start The Dance)
  10. The Garbage: I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Another personal note. Although I do love Deee-Lite’s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’, I think ‘Good Beat’ is way better. I didn’t discover until last summer and it has become my most played and loved song. Oh and Miss Kier has an amazing Tumblr, you should check it out.

Thrifty Finn- Wishing that she could pull of a bodysuit like that.

Mayday, Mayday

Our minister of foreign trade (who btw has blocked me on Twitter) just got re-tweeted by the Marimekko CEO.

I leave you to judge if Marimekko has other design problems other than plagiarism.

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.

 

 

Questions to Mika Ihamuotila

Deutsch: Helsinki, Kamppi: Marimekko- Verkaufs...

Deutsch: Helsinki, Kamppi: Marimekko- Verkaufsstelle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow morning, CEO of Marimekko, Mika Ihamuotila will step in front of the cameras at 7:45 on Huomenta Suomi-morning show.

First I want to say I’m rooting for Marimekko and Mika Ihamuotila, I’ve done research and received few little pieces of gossip, that makes me think that Mika has been put in this difficult position by people who decided to use his illness as an opportunity to advance their personal agenda within the company.

But still, he IS the CEO and I have some, no, one question to him regarding the latest scandal.

16_10_138k

Image via Grupofis.com.tr

Remember 2008? When you began a legal process immediately after you found out that Dolce&Gabbana had been using Unikko in their cruise collection? And how you reached a financial settlement because in your opinion unlicensed use had caused financial damage to Marimekko? I mean, the D&G print isn’t even a direct copy, the layout is completely different.

Remember how you used that argument on Gingko-case?

Now, with the latest scandal, which still can go both ways, we will know for sure when the manufacturer is found out and from there the date of production. However, following thing bothers me: Your designer said in the statement you released that “I confirm that Hetkiä/Moments is my design. I took part with it in a competition organized by Marimekko and University of Art & Design Helsinki. The bag bought in Barcelona, seen in the news, in my opinion is the copy.” Here’s the important part: “I’ve seen the bag myself (often), after the print was produced by Marimekko and been wondering about it’s similarity.”

Your designer had seen the print/bag, which you (the company) and she think is a copy, and yet you did nothing. The bag doesn’t look like it’s one of a kind, but factory manufactured. There’s most likely hundreds if not thousands of them out there. YET you didn’t think it was necessary to take any action. Here is my question: Why didn’t you?

Thrifty Finn- Wanting to go back to regular blogging but since I started to follow the story, I have to follow it through. Because that’s what I’ve demanded of my friends and tonight, they quite rightly pointed it out to me.