“One has to dream, and one must stand out from the rest”. These are the words of Armi Ratia, the lady behind the Finnish textile and clothing design company known for its original prints and colours.
Marimekko was founded in 1951 by Armi Ratia and her designer friend, who was soon became Armi’s husband Viljo. The coluorful prints and clean cuts of Marimekko became an instant success among Finnish fashionists of the time: the patterns were new and original in the Finnish textile industry.
International recognition came in the 1960’s, when the US first lady to be, Jacqueline Kennedy, bought seven Marimekko dresses and used them during the election campaign for her husband John F. Kennedy. The intellectuals and culture persons in United States took on Marimekko prints and patterns as their favourites.
From the fifties to the seventies Marimekko was a central part of any Finnish wardrobe. From this standpoint it seemed like everyone owned something from Marimekko. Marimekko’s Jokapoika shirt with stripes or Iloinen takki dress (Happy coat dress) were widely used and are still well remembered today.
In the eighties Marimekko was financially and designwise in a bad condition. Armi died in 1979 and the company was near bankruptcy. Without Armi, the company seemed to lose the idea of itself. Materials were getting worse and design lacked the originality the company was so well known for. This was the ugly situation until 1991 when another strong Finnish business lady, Kirsti Paakkanen, bought Marimekko from the owner of that time. Kirsti started to develop the company following her strong vision, and to the surprise of many, she was able to bring the spirit back to Marimekko.