I’m a big fan of the Finnish textile company, Marimekko, and I recently was lucky enough to have this vintage shirt from the company appear in my mailbox. It is a gift from one of the most generous persons I know, Beth Lennon, or Mod Betty at Retro Roadmap.
Marimekko became known to Americans through the efforts of Design Research, what many consider to be the first lifestyle store. Design Research was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1953, and was primarily a store selling items for home decor. After owner Ben Thompson saw Marimekko textiles at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, Marimekko clothing and fabrics were added to the store.
Design Research carried Marimekko until the stores were closed in 1978. Through the years Design Research had expanded into different markets, and by the late 60s the company was showing signs of trouble. According to some accounts, their expansion was poorly thought out, with some of the markets not being suited for the store’s aesthetic. And of course, times were changing. What looked so modern and fresh in 1953 was looking dated by the mid 1970s.
All of the Marimekko designs are copyright protected, and because of that there is sometimes a copyright date on the tags from the 1960s and 70s. Mine is missing the tag, but my guess is mid 1970s, based on the stores listed on the label and the fitted shape of the shirt.
I’ve looked, and I’ve not found this particular design. All the designs were named, and there are records which record who the designer was of each. If anyone can point me in the right direction to find that information for this shirt I’d be most grateful.
Again, I’d like to thank Beth for sending this great shirt my way. I’ve actually been wearing it, paired with a black and white Marimekko striped knit that I bought last year.
Beth is presently working on a Kickstarter campaign. She wants to do a series of videos that will highlight the wonderful vintage, and often endangered, places that make America unique. If you’d like to help, contributions start at $10 and I know that Beth appreciates every dollar that is given to help record this history.