Tag Archives: Marimekko

Inspiration: Finnish Fabric Design & Stores

Few months ago I wrote about Finnish sewing blogs, a sort of TOP 5 of mine. In the end I wondered if I should continue it with a post about the fabric stores and designers as some of you might want to try to make clothes in Finnish style as well.

I asked for some help at a sewing group in Facebook and I got a flurry of answers. Even I didn’t realize there are that many! Finnish print design is alive and doing well indeed. In twenty years time, these are the fabrics we will be fighting for in online auctions :)

Here’s my TOP 5. I have listed all stores that sell designer fabrics at the bottom, so you can bookmark this post for later reading and/or reference.



Majapuu is one of the biggest ones, at least when it comes to selection. They also have some crafty supplies and home decor stuff. They have tons of different kinds of prints for sale. As you can see from the images there’s modern, retro and vintage style things. My favourite is the Kiiltokuvat. It’s a digi print cotton which is also available as jersey. It’s not cheap, 22.90€ per meter, but if you make something for a kid, a meter goes for a long way. Their sale section is over HERE. The gray London-print is tempting me…


Pehemiä sells only fabrics and some notions. Mostly knits. The Kirjonta is a merino wool jacquard knit of which Pehemiä has 13 different kinds in stock right now. The Fasaani is a woven cotton fabric.

Käpynen is mainly focused on fabrics but there are sewing notions and gift items for sale too. The prints are designed in Finland and printed in Poland using “traditional printing techniques” but there are digiprints and other manufacturers available too. Majority of the fabrics are knits but there is a section for cotton prints as well.


Sashop is the brain child of designer Sari Ahokainen. She sells fabrics, ribbons, clothing and other things she designed. I love, love the Pony Bloom. The fabrics aren’t cheap (again) but there is a special deal on the ribbons. A surprise bag of 20 meters of ribbon for 20 euros.


PaaPii Design is possibly the most international of these stores. PaaPii sells fabrics, DIY-kits, toys, paper goods…there’s basically something for everyone. The Bambi- sewing kit must have been very popular as I’ve seen it in so many sewing blogs. Some day I will get one too, it’s just too cute to pass up on. Anyhoo, their fabric collection isn’t huge but the stuff is so design-y that I don’t mind.

And then just bubbling under….


Vimma is an über cool label that makes children’s wear but they do have few print fabrics available too. I had to drop it from my TOP 5 because they are mainly a fashion label but still have to mention them for their extremely well thought out concept and brand. One of their designers is Maija Louekari who has designed for Marimekko as well.



There are tons of other online fabric stores but I decided to focus on ones that have those indie-designers available. If you have any questions..please, do ask them :D

-Thrifty Finn-

P.S. This is a coincidence but the day I decided to write this post I noticed THIS. There’s going to be an Indie Fabric Market on FB and you can join it HERE. They did the post in English so I presume the sellers are more than happy to post internationally :)

indie goes viral

Vintage Fabric Resources

forssa museum, forssan museo, vintage fabric identifier

Via forssanmuseo.fi

I had to share this with you as soon as I found out about it. A Finnish museum has a handy textile design tool, where you can search prints/designs by designer and/or year. And what do you know, the site is also in ENGLISH.

Naturally I had to check if I happen to own anything really good and rare but instead I found fabrics I want to have. Like this one:

1953, vintage fabric design, Finland

via forssanmuseo.fi

From 1953, there’s no designer name but LOOK AT THE PATTERN! It’s beautiful! Or how about this one from 1967 by Helena Perheentupa?

Helena Perheentupa, forssan museo, Finnish textile design

via forssanmuseo.fi

Could a pattern be anymore 60s? No matter what you make from this fabric, it would sell on the craft markets like hot cakes. I demand A RE-PRINT! Ooh, and in different colourways! Imagine yellow…*floats into a fabric dreamland*

One more for the road because this one I’ve seen IRL (sort of, on an online vintage market). It’s by a designer Pirkko Hammarberg and has such a utilitarian name S4089. But it’s anything but:

Pirkko Hammarberg, Finnish textile design, 1968

via forssanmuseo.fi

The fabric is so vibrant and alive! Part of me knows that these colours probably weren’t achieved with the most environmentally healthy chemicals but the other part wishes one could still get these. The third part of me wishes more vintage prints would be re-printed (OTHER THAN MARIMEKKO DAMMIT! I’M SO BORED WITH THEM!) but then the magic of finding these prints at the thrift stores would be gone.

I actually did some research and called Forssan Museo/Forssa Museum to enquire more about this online tool. I spoke with the musem director, Kati Kivimäki, herself and she told me that the online research tool only has a very small selection of their collection. Apparently they have 500 shelf meters just Finlayson prints! 500 SHELF METERS, PEOPLE!!! Imagine getting your hands on that loot. When I asked if they have plans to digitize more of their collection, she told me that everytime they get a job lot where the designer is marked and/or known, they will add it to the search tool.

Now Forssan Museo is on my museum visit wishlist. HERE you can find where they are located and the entry fees.

-Thrifty Finn, in a fabric fever-





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:

Marimekko. Freelancer’s Nightmare.

marimekko, home, decor, Finland

Image via marimekko.fi

Last time I wrote about Marimekko, was in September with this post where I summed up the copy scandal year. How I wish it would have stopped there but less than a month later a new story broke out. This time about a clothing pattern. Helsingin Sanomat broke the news:

Marimekko, Pellervo, freelancer, ethics, copyright

Image via iltasanomat.fi

Three years ago, designer Marjut Rahkola approached Marimekko with her children’s wear ideas and was promptly signed on as a freelance designer. In her contract was stated that she would get royalties from every item sold (that she had designed). The general Terms of Contract (?) of Marimekko states that designs can only be changed/modified together with the designer. The changes wouldn’t affect the royalties paid. Everything was now on black and white and Rahkola showed them openly all of her designs. Production went ahead and the first collection was out 2012.

pellervo, pattern, technical drawing

Image via hs.fi


Then 2013, Rahkola began studying at Helsinki Design School  and didn’t visit Marimekko HQ that often. She had a verbal agreement that her designs would be co-ordinated in-house and then decided how they would proceed with them. When she went to visit HQ in June, she found out that Marimekko had brought back one of her earlier designs but this time it wasn’t her name on them. She sent an e-mail to the creative director Minna Kemell-Kutvonen about it and she responded via lawyer:

“No copying has been done, because first of all, it is not the same Pellervo-pant. It is brand new, separate product.”

The differentiation was further explained:

“The new product differs from Pellervo-pant by its scale and new pattern form and thus being much fitter and narrower where as Pellervo-pant was charmingly slouchy.”

If you go back up and look at the technical drawing, how much difference you see? Technical drawing for clothes are the blueprints. What you see is what you get. True, this isn’t a copy case but an ethics and a contract breach case. And that’s what the designer thinks too:

“You can easily play this down. That it doesn’t take a long time to come up with this. But that’s not the point. I was the one who brought it as new to Marimekko. This is just the way they try to avoid royalty payments to the original designer. Diaper pants play a significant role in the current collection. Also, this tells a lot how designers are appreciated.”

Pellervo-pants aren’t the first and only diaper pants ever. But anyone who ever has made a clothing pattern from scratch knows that getting a good fit takes time. Rahkola herself said that she made 20 prototypes. Marimekko built on that work and probably would never had a diaper pant in their collection if it weren’t for Rahkola. Copyright laws weren’t broken but this clearly was done with the intent to stop paying the designer.

As per usual, Marimekko continued with their confusing statements. When Marimekko’s Communication Manager (my translation of the Finnish title) Merja Paulamäki was asked by iltasanomat.fi about this, she said (and she used pretty clever wording in Finnish…):

“Marimekko has had children’s wear in their collections for decades. Items for the diaper wearing ages have been in our collections also for decades. So as a product, they are not new.”

This is what pisses me off. She tries to imply that the designer claims that she was the one who brought the whole concept of children’s wear to Marimekko, by replacing the word diaper pants with diaper wearing ages, meaning toddlers of course. Then she continued:

“They are completely different product by their scale and fit.”

When she was confronted with the technical drawings, she responded with:

“I don’t know how to comment. I only know our products, not these drawings.”

So first you knew enough to say that the designer is wrong and then suddenly you don’t know anything? Maybe it’s time have an MRI. Also, Marimekko had the option to make a one-time payment to the designer but they chose the royalty-route. Instead of handling it like a business partner you are supposed to be able to trust, they decided, scamming the designer or in this case the correct word is developer, would make better financial sense.

This news broke out last October but as I was in Paris without a computer, I couldn’t write about it then. There have been a lot of changes within Marimekko-company followed by these scandals and my next post is about them.

Thrifty Finn- Your trusty Marimekko reporter




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.