Tradition and Function meet Fashion
Nunavummiut are proud to wear sealskin clothing. Traditional garments are still prominent in the Arctic, especially among hunters who require the warmth and durability of animal skin clothing and fur to protect against the elements. The younger generation is also looking towards sealskin fashions. Fashion can express cultural pride, blending of practical needs, esthetic details and traditional influences. In the Arctic, clothing’s primary role is for warmth, but it has not prevented traditional designs from displaying new patterns and colours.
Nunavut designers have begun to adopt elements and techniques developed for milder climates. Southern designers interested in sealskin design, adopt elements from Inuit tradition. Programs aimed at increasing the technical proficiency of Nunavut designers and producers are bringing a sophistication to locally-made garments. Programs include local community workshops in skin preparation and sewing as well as a certificate program in fur design and production at Nunavut Arctic College.
Boosting Local Economy …and Pride
Nunavut-made sealskin coats and other garments (mitts, kamiks, etc) incorporate other natural materials including animal bone for buttons and clasps. Long hair and fur from fox, wolf, wolverine and rabbit are used as well. Garment production helps support the local economy while symbolizing the importance of wildlife to Nunavut.
The production of garments has traditionally been the work of Inuit women who have passed down their skills and knowledge through the generations. This production allows economic activity, while enhancing a significant social and cultural function in Nunavut.