Seal skin, both as fur and leather, has been used for thousands of years to protect Canada’s northernmost residents from the harshest winter conditions. Inuit and other indigenous peoples take advantage of the fur’s ability to repel water, block wind, and retain heat to make durable clothing, boots, and shelters. Seal leather had, and has, a multitude of uses.
Seal skin is having a renaissance in the Canadian artisan and luxury sectors. Function truly meets fashion in modern seal textiles: the durability of the fur and leather is uniquely appropriate for the Canadian climate; each pelt’s natural patterns and colours are celebrated and showcased in boots, shoes, jackets, purses, and accessories.
Seal fur trim can be seen on wedding dresses; simple sealskin cuffs, pendants, and earrings are subtle statements of appreciation for nature’s beauty. More than one of Canada’s parliamentarians has been spotted sporting a seal fur tie or warm winter hat.
New groups of artisans from Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, and elsewhere are reimagining traditional sealskin clothing for a modern audience. Canada’s up-and-coming designers are incorporating seal into their work in exciting new ways. Together, they are bringing seal textiles to new markets, new generations, and new creative heights.