A NEW generation of Canadian seal skin designers are taking the fashion world by storm.
In defiance of activists their ethically produced garments have proved a big hit on European cat walks.
Now three native Innuit designers say they want to take on the “bullying” activists who they blame for tarnishing their culture.
Rannva Simonsen, a luxury seal fur designer from the northern Canadian Arctic town of Iqaluit, said, “The attitude has changed. Sealskin is actually being more and more accepted.”
She is one of three new wave designers that are on a mission to promote their culture and show the world how their traditional way of life has been hijacked by activists and misrepresented.
Victoria Kakuktinniq, 27, who has also immersed herself in the Inuit customs and specialises in mitten and parka- making has created a fashion line which combines elements of modern design with traditional Innuit culture.
Her sealskin winter coat collection recently has wowed catwalk audiences and reclaimed sealskin’s place in haute couture.
She said: “It’s part of my culture.
“The Inuit are really trying our best to promote our culture and show our way of life and how our ancestors lived.”
Nicole Camphaug began experimenting with covering shoes with sealskin several years ago which she says is another way of showcasing her culture.
“I always think it’s so important to get sealskin out there,” she said.
The three designers are now at the forefront of changing the perceptions created by activists of a cruel industry which exploits seals.
Seals have long been viewed by Innuits as “local cows” – a humane source of food and income in a region with few other economic options.
It is a part of their culture which has long been ignored by activists, they say.
Rannva added: “I find it’s cultural bullying when people from the bigger society crush the small little culture.
“Instead they should learn from the Inuit’s connectedness and respect for nature.”