Finland reindeer suede conquers catwalk

Reindeer couture.  Image: Laura Juslin. YLE.Reindeer suede is the latest craze in the world of high fashion. Brands like Armani and Ralph Lauren  are featuring the material in their designs. Now an entire collection is being crafted from the hide, a cast-off from the meat processing industry.

Helsinki fashion design student Laura Juslin is creating an all-reindeer collection as her final school project. She praises the versatility of the material, which she says can be both dyed and printed.

“It’s strong and super soft,” says Juslin, adding that reindeer suede can even be transformed into lacy garments.

Rebirth of traditional values?

Reindeer suede is also seen as an ecologically friendly material that respects traditional values of not allowing any animal parts to go to waste.

“Reindeer suede is popular for its exotic quality and limited supply,” says Carita Pöntiö, the managing director of Ahlskog, a leather goods producer . “Economic gloom has not dampened orders for reindeer hide.”

The Sámi, an indigenous people who inhabit Arctic regions of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, have traditionally used reindeer skin for their clothing and tents. Now, a Sámi education centre in Inari, a community in Finland’s Far North, is looking to turn reindeer hide treatment into a minor industry in the area.

Virpi Jääskö of the centre says they use traditional chemical-free methods to treat hides.

In her opinion, catwalk reindeer suede is anything but ecological, as fashion giants use chemicals to give the fabric its luxurious feel.

Ahlskog Leather meanwhile says it sticks to EU-approved chemicals and dyes.

“EU monitoring is very strict,” says Pöntiö.

Reindeer suede is said to be both supple and warm.

“It looks like regular fabric until you get a closer look and realise it’s leather,” says designer hopeful Juslin.

Yle News

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