Can you buy Marimekko fabric at good prices in Finland? Let’s continue on the great fabric quest, shall we?
When you visit Finland, even fleetingly, you think of Marimekko, a design brand of great longevity and perpetual good taste.
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Marimekko – a Finnish Design Company
Marimekko means “Mari’s Dress” in Finnish and was founded in 1950 as a textile printing company in response to the restricted choice of easy going yet chic clothes in Finland. They employed a large amount of females, fom the production up to design and management, and soon became known for its bright abstract prints and exceptional quality fabrics and clothing. They soon became popular in the United States. The iconic “Unikko” flower pattern joined the roster in 1964. After the death of one of the founders, it eventually became a public company in the 1980’s.
For some reasons, Japanese seem obsessed with Marimekko! They also make a large proportion of foreign tourists to Finland. Likewise, Japanese culture is popular in Finland and you will find Japanese Restaurants almost everywhere! Marimekko drew some of its print inspiration from Japanese Art, and has employed a number of Japanese designers over the years.
If you want to see their designs over the years and learn more about the company’s history, I recommend this book on Marimekko.
Where to buy Marimekko fabric and other Marimekko designs
If you’ve been to one of their Shops, you might notice that they are quite pricey. They produce mostly in Eastern Europe and Far East, which somehow doesn’t seem to justify the high Prices, as their materials are fairly simple. Most of the garments are made from cotton.
They do, however, have their own printing factory in the outskirts of Helsinki in Herttoniemi, where a lot of their fabrics are printed. Sometimes you can go on a guided tour of the printing plant,(arrange through Facebook) but not at present as there are refurbishment works.
There are really lots and lots of standalone Marimekko Shops in Helsinki. A very large one is in the Forum Mall across from the Train Station. They are quite expensive – just like in Western Europe. An example are very simple cotton tote bags, the type you stuff in your bag for taking the groceries home. They retailed at about 20 Euro, and so did some mugs.
Things that make good gifts are the Marimekko paper napkins. They come in loads of different designs in every shop. You can also buy them on Amazon – they are only slightly more expensive there.
I’d heard that Marimekko has numerous outlets, so what better to go and visit on, ideally on my way back to the Airport? The most visited is Hertoniemi, but given that the print works are not accessible and that it’s allegedly the most visited outlet (and Maybe a Little shopped-out?). There’s another one in Vantaa very close to the Airport, and you can take Bus 561 or 616 from the Airport there! it’s called Marimekko Tammisto and is in a huge rather unattractive mall, with not much else of interest there.
Shopping at the Marimekko Tammisto Outlet in Vantaa
So, was the Marimekko Oulet a treasure Trove of great design and loads of Marimekko fabric?
Well. The mall is not really attractive. It’s a suburban strip mall with mid-priced sports, furniture and clothes shops. Marimekko appeared the most upmarket one. The shop is quite small, too, and holds clothing, some tableware, a small selection of bedding and home linens and what I thought a rather decent section of fabrics.
About 50% of the items are full price, the rest is 20-30% off. Given the high prices Marimekko products starts at, there were no real bargains. The printed fabric selection was good – there were about two thirds to three quarters furnishing fabrics, with the rest being lighter weight and suitable for clothing, so you can buy Marimekko fabric here easily.
The cheapest fabrics started at 15 Euro per metre – not cheap for non organic cotton. If the quality of Marimekko prints really outlasts a 1001 washes I’m willing to pay for it. I bought two pieces of fabric, a lightweight summery dress fabric and a slightly heavier Cotton with a bit of a sheen of the famous Unikko design. The shop assistants were friendly and spoke English but weren’t overly keen on offering advice. I wasn’t sure if they knew all their merchandise, where its produced, how to wash it, but I got some basic information with my fabric purchases.
The Unikko fabric with smaller Flowers was much more expensive… I’ll yet have to figure out whether ist going to be a dress or something else. Both these fabrics are 140cm wide and cost 15Euro per metre, which, if the quality and print stands up the washes, is a good price to me.
The Marimekko Outlet Tammisto is only a small detour from your way to the airport, so if you are looking for some (slightly) reduced Marimekko merchandise, it wouldn’t hurt too much to swing by here before you leave.
If you miss it, you can buy Marimekko fabric in the most iconic prints comfortably on Amazon.
How to get to Marimekko Outlet Tammisto
There are several tram/bus and bus combos to get there from Helsinki Train Station. Bus No 614 goes there directly every half hour from the Train Station and will take about 40 minutes. To move on to to Airport, Busses 561 and 615 will take you there in 20minutes; they leave at least once every half hour, usually more often. There are several other routes from the centre and Helsinki Train Station. Google Maps works really well in Helsinki and should get you a good route on public transport with one or no changes.
One Final Word on Finnish Design and its production sites
There’s no denying it – Finnish design is cool and world-famous. However, once you start looking for where to can see the collections and perhaps buy a few pieces, you’ll hear a lot of chatter online that pretty much nothing is produced in Finland any more. This came as a bit of a shock to me, despite knowing the labour costs in Finland are high.
l looked at visiting the old Arabia factory and heard everything is produced in the Far East now. Fiskars, famous for rather good scissors and gardening tools owns a handful of big design companies among them Arabia, Iittala, and also Wedgewood, Royal Doulton and Waterford Crystal! As for Marimekko – some internet research provided no information as to where their goods are produced. I found that all fabrics are printed in their Herttoniemi printworks. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind paying top dollar for superb quality produced in country with high labour cost, but I wouldn’t knowing it was mass-produced. It is something to consider when visiting design shops in Finland.
Disclosure: This trip was entirely self funded. I have paid for all products. I have received no monetary or non-monetary rewards for linking aside from some affiliate links. You can trust me for the whole, unbiased truth. More details on my affiliate link policy are here.
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