For newbies to sealskin, here’s a piece of advice:
If you’re buying sealskin products that you want to wear south of the arctic circle, you want to ensure they are tanned (processed with either chemicals or brain tannins to preserve the skins).
In the arctic, we often wear rawhide sealskin items because in its raw state the seal skin is more water repellent, and a bit warmer. Up here, it’s cold and extremely dry, so our raw seal skins keep well. However in southern climates where it’s not only warmer, but much more humid, raw seal skin items have to be kept in the freezer when not being worn otherwise it can start to break down and give off an unpleasant smell.
Tanned/treated seal skins have no smell at all, they are just like regular fur or cow leather. And don’t worry, it’s still plenty warm when tanned.
From what I can tell, all of the products at these links below are made from tanned sealskins. But if you have any doubts, please ask the designer.
Victoria Kakuktinniq is an amazing Inuk clothing designer who works with a lot of sealskin.
Here you can get beautiful shoes covered in sealskin by Inuk designer Nicole Camphaug. You can either order shoes she has in stock, or you can get a custom order done by sending her shoes that you know fit you and she can cover them in a colour of your choosing. Looooove her stuff.
Here is a lovely little Inuit-owned gift shop located in Iqaluit. Their tagline is “All things Inuit”. Lots of amazing seal skin items in there, by many different Inuit artists.
Nunavik Creations was created by the Inuit of Northern Quebec. They’ve got all kinds of amazing things.
Ivalu is a great little shop in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. They’ve got seal skin, seal leather, muskox leather, and more.
Here is a page to some Inuit artists in Alaska:
Rannva is a fantastic designer who is originally from the Faroe Islands and has been living in Nunavut for many years. She is not Inuit but works with fur from animals hunted by Inuit, and hires Inuit seamstresses for some of her lines, and so she is an important economic contributor in our community.
Great Greenland always has an amazing collection of sealskin items. It is a company based in Greenland and uses seal skin hunted by Greenlandic Inuit. A lot of their info is posted in Danish and the currency is in Danish Kroner. But download a catalogue and order from them, it is so worth looking through their site. I own a beautiful purse and hi-top shoes from them.
Inuk 360 is an Inuk designer living in the Northwest Territories: