Marimekko to Debut Vintage Pop-up Shop in SoHo

While dozens of designers are showing their latest collections during New York Fashion Week, Marimekko is celebrating its past with a vintage pop-up shop in its SoHo store.

The Finnish brand’s creative director Rebekka Bay recruited vintage lover, illustrator and stylist Jenny Walton to help choose the selection in the Wooster Street boutique. Following a press preview Saturday, the outpost will be open to the public through Thursday.

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This year has been all about the celebration of the 60th anniversray of Marimekko’s most recognized print — Unikko — with campaigns and activations. The company’s founder, Armi Ratia, believed that the essence of a flower could not be captured in print. So Maija Isola designed Unikko to be an abstraction of a flower. Next month Samsung will debut a limited edition collection of accessories adorned with the print such as phone covers and watch wristbands.

“Starting from our 70-year history, we have always prided ourselves on creating and producing dresses that are passed down from one generation to the next. It’s very unique to create something of real timeless value and this is first and foremost in everything that we do. We decide on the quality of the make, patterns, colors and silhouettes that we believe will outlast time,” Bay said.

The creative director has another reason to celebrate — having recently debuted the Maridenim denim collection during a Copenhagen Fashion Week runway show at the National Gallery of Denmark. That brand extension is one that that she had envisioned since joining the company. Aside from enjoying a post-show hike, Bay went straight back to taking care of the tasks at hand and started mulling over the choreography for the next show. “That’s the unwinding,” she said with a laugh.

A Jenny Walton illustration for Marimekko.

The U.S., Asia and northern Europe are areas that the brand is targeting for expansion. As a listed company that is in its quiet period, Bay was unable to share any numbers about store openings.

Walton has collaborated with Marimekko in the past in different capacities. Bay said, “She is someone who I have been aware of, and we have always followed her. With her appreciation for vintage, she has a unique way of styling vintage pieces in a modern context.”

For the SoHo pop-up, Walton helped select the vintage pieces that are being displayed and are available for sale. Solely in its home country, Marimekko has a “pre-loved” platform where shoppers can buy and sell pre-owned pieces. The SoHo pop-up is the first physical outpost for vintage finds, albeit the company tapped Walton to create a physical space to trumpet its legacy and heritage while also selling some vintage pieces.

Rebekka Bay and Jenny Walton
Rebekka Bay and Jenny Walton

With an archive of 3,500-plus patterns and “a huge selection” of dresses from the ’50s on, the team continues to revisit those and build new ideas from them. To try to reduce waste, Marimekko uses recycled materials and has developed more precise fabric cutting and it upcycles leftover materials to create smaller products, such as diminutive purses and hair scrunchies. Before developing the denim line, which will be released in August, Marimekko worked closely with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Styles, for example, are 80 percent organic and 20 percent recycled, and its production facility of choice limits water waste by using lasers instead. The brand opted not to use stretch materials, which are more difficult to upcycle, Bay said.

Illustrator Jenny Walton pitched in with the SoHo pop-up.

During her New York stay she won’t be taking in any fashion week shows. Bay explained that she prefers not to, in order to not let others’ vision affect her own. Looking ahead, the Copenhagen-based creative is really encouraged by how many emerging designers are interested in “upcycling, recycling and creating value and beauty out of the old.” The shift for many brands to try to balance clothes that are wearable and emotional versus being focused on trends is also intriguing, she said.

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