Designing bold and experimental prints is a passion of Julia Männistö, the founder of the Mannisto brand. She finds inspiration in large ensembles, 1970s and 80s artists’ creative and indulgent styles – such as the styles of Freddy Mercury – and people who have the courage to be themselves. Music plays an important role in Männistö’s design and in her shows; the soundtracks conform precisely to the concept and message of each Mannisto collection.
How are you, Julia?
I’m really good, thanks! Last Friday we opened a new showroom in Garden, and had a really nice opening party. Lots of people showed up, a nice mix of friends, acquaintances and good old business partners, as well as many fashion fans interested in Mannisto. The showroom was enabled by Finnish fashion export promoter Juni. They invited a diverse group of artists and fashion creators to showcase their products in Garden for about a month. The location is awesome and provides a great opportunity to showcase our young brand. In the showroom, we present samples of Mannisto’s latest collaboration project with Lindström as well as artwork by Mannisto trainee Taavi Mäkilä.
Mannisto is known for its colourful and eccentric prints. What inspires you to design them?
Print and surface design has been key in my work since I studied in the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. I’ve had amazingly encouraging teachers and opportunities to train and experiment with different things while studying – in Finland as well as at Central Saint Martins in London.
The Mannisto prints are created by hand in Turku. For the future, I wish we could develop textile design further and outsource the production so that we can focus entirely on the design and print creation. I dream about Mannisto’s very own textile print house. Fabrics have been printed in Finland before, but unfortunately the textile business has declined over the years. Instead of mass production, I wish companies would focus on making unique, exclusive high quality items. This type of change in business will take time, however, and require companies to operate on a solid ground in order to make their production continuous.
Sauna collection was presented in Pitti Uomo in 2018.
What did you learn in London?
I obtained a solid capacity for brainstorming while studying in London. I learned that a designer must have a clear vision of which ideas to refer to in their work, what ideas the collection is based on and what it represents. I’m inspired by a vast array of topics, but they need to be crystallized into a tight package.
Many things fascinate me, and when designing a collection, I study them more deeply. For example, the Sauna Collection we presented at Pitti Uomo in 2018 was inspired by the history of the Finnish sauna and our “housecoat” style as well as the 1970s, when knitwear and T-shirts were considered acceptable outfits for daily use. The prints of the collection combined bears, hearts and stripes typical in the 1970s as well as the “waffle” patterns that I think represent the Finnish identity.
It was lovely to highlight Finnish culture and history with the collection, although Mannisto does not strongly represent a Finnish design identity. I’ve studied in London and founded my company in Berlin, so I don’t think there is any one location that defines Mannisto; it’s a cross section of all the cultures. Mannisto can be anything!
What kind of music do you listen to at the studio?
We listen to all types of music at the studio. I like traditional 1970s and 80s disco, musicals and classical music. A very wide scale of music. I’m an emotional person, and through music, I express big emotions. For example, a proper blast is good for feeling successful. At Mannisto, we’re not afraid to show our feelings or do something embarrassing. We enjoy letting go.
AW16 Boys Don’t Cry
How do you choose the music for the Mannisto shows?
I choose the soundtracks very precisely according to the concept of the collection. Each of them is very unique, because Mannisto actually does not have a strong DNA or style that would remain the same year after year. For example in 2017, we introduced the Los Gatos Locazas collection at the Finnish National Museum, combining contemporary working clothes with traditional Latin American textile art. This show included steam-punk-style Colombian music with some construction site effects in the background. The following year we introduced the Sauna Collection concept with a more sensitive mood and chose pieces for the Finnish kantele instrument. In other words, the music selection is always very connected to the story and concept of the collection.
Which artist would you like to see wearing Mannisto clothing?
Mannisto has no limits, it can be anything. That’s why I believe that anyone who wants to wear Mannisto clothes will wear them in their own way and bring something of their own into the outfit. To me, the most important thing is the person behind the clothing. For example, Vesta is a cool person, so I really enjoy seeing her wear the clothes I’ve designed. We’re going to design more stage outfits for her this summer.
Which artist do you admire?
I admire artists and all creative makers who have a strong vision about what they want to be, who are able to channel and present their vision successfully even if it requires a lot of work. For example, the styles of Freddie Mercury and many other 1970s and 80s artists inspire me. I feel like there were no limits to their creativity, and none of them was afraid to go overboard.
Mannisto In Progress Pop Up Kämin Gardenissa.
What kind of projects are you working on at the moment?
We have lots going on. In the near future, we’ll be working on Vesta’s stage outfits as well as the new Mannisto collection for 2020. Lately we’ve worked on many different projects, including consultancy, print design and so many other things that we decided not to launch a new collection this year. At this point, I’ve produced many different patterns, and I know now what works on the market, what doesn’t, and what are the most successful items by Mannisto. I want to develop the business based on this information, not to make it bigger but to provide higher quality and a more solid ensemble.
In addition to the new collection, we’re working on a long-term project with Lindström and considering collaboration opportunities around circular economy and fashion. Lindström makes work clothes for various fields and is left with plenty of textile waste, which is re-used, if possible, or burned, which is unecological not to mention expensive. At Mannisto, we try to help Lindström solve the problem and find ways to utilize textile waste. We’re also working on how Lindström may perhaps create stylish and modern recycled clothing by themselves in the future. We design patterns, test which concepts interest consumers and figure out how to produce them industrially in large volumes in order to get the most out of the waste material.