From the hunter-gatherer culture to the catwalk
In harmony with nature
Greenlandic fashion designers unite the wilderness with the city. They combine practical clothing suited to the Arctic climate with wonderful lightness. Different materials from very different parts of the globe are drawn together in a cosmopolitan patchwork, and fashion designers proudly incorporate their ancestors' hunter-gatherer culture into collections that work both within and outside the Arctic. Thousands of years of highly developed techniques in sewing animal skins are combined today with the simple and practical-yet-elegant Scandinavian style.
Skins as thin as fabric
Thanks to new techniques in tanning, dyeing and scalping of animal skins, the classic Greenlandic skins and furs such as seal, Arctic fox and mountain hare are today so thin that they can be sewn into lovely evening gowns or beautiful tops.
Gone are the days of heavy anoraks. Many Greenlandic brides combine silks, tulle and sealskin to produce an exquisite wedding dress for the big day. Everything goes, and as Nuuk designer Najannguaq Davidsen Lennert says: It's modern to combine different types of material such as wool, silk and animal skin.
- Fashion today has so many nuances. Previously, clothes were designed for outdoor use. Today we design a lot of clothes for indoor use - not least clothes for partying, adds the young designer.
Ethically correct shopping spree
You can go on a shopping spree in Greenlandic designer clothes with a clear conscience. Greenlandic sealskin is exempt from the EU ban on sealskin. The animals live in freedom until the day they're shot. They're shot for their meat; the sealskin is always secondary. It's therefore ethically correct to buy sealskin products from Greenland.
Hot designers right now
Mother and daughter, Rita and Nickie Isaksen, were both born in Greenland. In 2002 they set up Isaksen Design, which focuses on comfort, functionality and sustainability. Black, white and red are themes in all their collections, most recently Great Greenland's 2012 series. These three colours have great significance in the Greenlandic spirit world: Black represents the spirit world itself, white represents the bones of ancestors and red is the blood of life.
Else Najattaa Lennert grew up in Sisimiut. Her mother sewed clothes of the skins that her father flayed from the seals he hunted. Her mother sewed everything by hand - and this fascinated Else so much that today she makes her living as a designer. She's proud of combining her country's sealskin with other types of material. As she says, sealskin was once essential for life - today it's a mark of quality of life.