Summer is not the time for luxurious fur coats, but that doesn’t mean fur is off limits in the summer.
Real fur has always been the signature of luxury, but it doesn’t have to be limited to big fur coats, mitts or the fluffy trim on your parka. Many northern designers have been playing with the use of fur over the last several years, from using it as trim on their stiletto heels to making statement jewelry. Here are some of the ways you can rock fur all year long and the artists who are making the chic trend possible.
Accessories are key to dressing up any outfit. Take a button-up shirt and add a tie or use a cute scrunchie in your hair on the days where you just want to wear it up. Designers are finding new ways to incorporate fur into classic pieces. Take Taalrumiq (Christina King) who makes seal skin bowties. Her ties have an adjustable fabric neck band with a leather backing. This could be worn with a collared shirt to dress up any look and add a unique twist to the otherwise formal style.
Meanwhile, Taalrumiq has mastered the sealskin pin. On Proudly Indigenous Crafts and Designs, the Inuvialuk artist displays many products including her sealskin solidarity pins. These orange hearts with glass seed and accent beading have an orange suede backing. They were originally created for the Strong People, Strong Communities Indigenous Mural Art Project workshops, but they continue to be a visual symbol of love and support for Indigenous communities. Add one of these pins to any outfit for a pop of colour as well as a symbol of your continued support for those who have been affected by residential schools.
Other artists have used things like beaver fur to create scrunchies in all different colors, adding texture to the otherwise simple ponytail. Or they can be worn on the wrist as a bracelet.
What better way is there to add flare to an outfit than to choose statement jewelry, whether that’s a furry cuff link, dangling earrings or a large iconic necklace? There are dozens of northern designers who specialize in jewelry that is bright, fun and unique to their region.
Inuk 360’s jewelry includes large emerald sealskin earrings as well as cuffs that come in natural seal hide colours ranging from light to dark spotted grey. She has other designs that are dyed vibrant colours like red, gold, blue and pink. The designer often sells matching cuffs and earrings as a pair—plus they are made to order. Many of her pieces use muskox leather as the backing, while the earrings are made with sterling silver, ensuring each item lasts a lifetime.
Erica Lugt of She Was a Free Spirit combines harp seal fur with blue denim to create unique disc earrings. These earrings use an assortment of materials as they are edged in seed beads, with a caribou antler button. Lugt has other pieces where she makes use of seal fur for a fluffy disc earring. Bambi’s Traditional Arts also incorporate various materials through these Arctic Tundra flower earrings that combine sealskin and beading.
Designer Nicole Camphaug of Iqaluit-based ENB Artisan may be the first to popularize seal skin shoes, but she isn’t the last. Camphaug posted her first pair of heels in 2015 on Facebook and people were all over the idea as she added the natural spotted sealskin to an otherwise simple pump shoe. Designers like Inuk360 have taken up the trade as well, creating heels like her fuchsia dyed strappy stiletto heels. These styles can be worn all summer long and add some colour, pattern and texture, making your look stylish from head to toe.
A good purse to match your outfit can make all the difference, so why stick to simple designs when you can opt for something that draws the eyes?
Cheryl Fennell of the brand Snowfly uses sealskin to make many types of accessories, including bags. For something that stands out, Fennell showcases a slouchy purse made of bright red furry sealskin. Complete with red leather handles and gold rods at the side, this purse can be used all year-round, while adding a touch of color and texture to one’s outfit.
Or for those looking for something subtler, Fennell also creates black, white and grey carrying bags that offer seal skin accents that show off the natural pattern. Other bags feature a mostly seal skin pattern with leather accents, proving that the use of fur is fashionable all year long.