PARIS — Marimekko has named Rebekka Bay its creative director, tapping a veteran apparel industry designer to reinforce the Finnish label’s international profile.
The former Uniqlo, Gap, Cos and Everlane design director, who will start in September, will also join the management group.
“Rebekka [Bay] is a visionary creative leader with a unique ability to combine a strong creative vision with commercial thinking,” said Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko, Marimekko president and chief executive officer.
Alahuhta-Kasko also lauded the designer’s international experience, citing her experience in Asian markets, as well as her knowledge of Marimekko: Bay has been a member of the Finnish label’s board of directors since 2017, and is stepping down from that position ahead of the new management role.
“I have always found ideas more intriguing than fashion, innovation and creativity more important than fast-paced trends. I believe that Marimekko, as a lifestyle brand and in expression, is as relevant today as it was 70 years ago,” Bay enthused.
Under the direction of Alahuhta-Kasko, Marimekko has been seeking to modernize its offer, and widen its appeal to a broader audience. It has teamed up with Uniqlo on a series of limited-edition collections. The third such collection came out in April and drew inspiration from Finnish summer living, featuring clothing for women and children in colorful, bold Marimekko prints by Annika Rimala and Maija Isola.
The label last month took its open-air fashion show, which it traditionally holds at the onset of the warm season in Esplandadi Park in Helsinki, to the digital realm, featuring contributions from followers modeling the label’s clothing on its Instagram account. The collective, democratic fashion show was accompanied by a live performance from Finnish singer Vesala.
Bay has been splitting her time between New York and Tokyo in her current position, heading the creative direction of Uniqlo’s Global Innovation Center. Her previous positions include heading design and production at Everlane in New York and San Francisco, creative director of Bruuns Bazaar in Copenhagen and of Cos in London.
Bay will report to Alahuhta-Kasko. Satu Maaranen will continue as head designer of ready-to-wear, bags and accessories while Minna Kemell-Kutvonen will remain director of design and product development for home products and prints. Both will report to Bay.
“We believe that Marimekko’s mission to bring joy to the everyday lives of people is now more meaningful than ever. Timeless and sustainable design thinking has been in our DNA since the beginning,” Alahuhta-Kasko noted.
The label’s bright, airy prints are recognized for their lasting design appeal. The Tasaraita print, for example, whose evenly distributed, black-and-white stripes date back to 1968, convey a unisex look — designed for a generation seeking to level the playing field.
The brand, whose tablecloths are household staples in Finland, has taken a lifestyle approach, selling tablecloths since the Fifties and Sixties. In 1963, founder Armi Ratia said she sought to sell a way of living, rather than clothes, calling them designs, not fashions.