The high quality seal skins of Greenlandic fur house Great Greenland are used in the clothing industry as well as the furniture industry in many countries. The designers the company employs are on the other hand from Greenland and Denmark.
„Since we have many different designs, we also have different styles,“ says the company’s CEO, Ditte Sorknæs. The fur house is actually like one big adventure where you can imagine the seals swim by the icebergs, even a polar bear roaming and maybe you can also imagine a reindeer or two with big antlers.
Greenland is a country of many faces. It’s rustic, almost raw, it’s a wilderness paradise and its people are like wizards regarding the special Greenlandic culture and handicraft.
For centuries, the Greenlanders have used seal skin when making their clothes, and seal skin is actually something that’s the icing on the cake when it comes to the fur house Great Greenland.
The company was established in 1977 under the name “Grunlandsgarveriet” and specialized in tanning seal skin. Because of the company’s strategy to be more international, the name was changed in 1991 to Great Greenland.
From 2003 the company has bought up seal skin from Greenland under a service agreement with the home ruelment.
Each year the company introduces new colors in its fur collection. Nature, camel, golden brown, oblivion green, orange, cherry…
The Greenlandic nature is unique and as a means to protect the environment, the company’s motto is “In harmony with nature” and this is seen for example in regard to the newest technology used in the tannery in addition to the company ensuring spilling of contamined water. The company has even developed a vegetable tanning technique.
“Seal skins are quite unique compared to other fur skins as it resembles leather as much as it resembles fur,” says CEO, Ditte Sorknæs. “It has the sturdy flexibility of leather and the soft touch and elegant look of fur. Because of these unique features for many manufactures and designers it’s easier to work with seal skin than other fur skins.”
Great Greenland sells skins to designers from all over the world but primarily Northern Europe. “The designers we employ ourselves are all Greenlandic or Danish. We make coats, jackets, vests, Greenlandic outdoor wear, bags, purses, shoes, accessories, furniture and much more.“
Since Great Greenland has many different designs the company’s products also have different styles. “However, we try to aim at creating timelss styles that do not go out of fashion. Most of our customers buy their coats to last them years, and it is important for us that they look their best during the length of the coat’s lifetime.
Most of our recent collections, made in cooperation with dress designer Jesper Hovring, have an extremely elegant and feminine feel. They are created for proud beautiful women who hold their own.”
Great Greenland has very traditional Greenlandic coats made for dog sleigh drivers. “Seal in itself is a traditional Greenlandic product, and as such it is impossible to shed the underlying Greenlandic influence. Recently we started cooperating with a Greenlandic designer, Louise Lynge, who makes modern styles with touches of traditional Greenlandic design imbedded. The first styles from this cooperation will be in stores by November this year.”
Great Greenland’s two primary sales locations are Denmark and Greenland. However, the company’s prodution is also sold in other Scandinavian countries.
“I see seal skin as having great opportunities in the near future. There is a new tendency amongst consumers, where sustainable products are moving forward. You cannot find a more sustainable material than seal. The animals are wild and they are hunted for their meat and not for their skin. Moreover, the money owned by hunting supports the life of indigenous people. I’m sure that consumers will choose these kinds of materials even more in the future. Great Greenland wants to become a strong Greenlandic business, dealing not only in seal but in several kinds of fur and hides from the Greenlandic fauna.” In this regard it’s worth to mention that the company also tans furs from polar bears.
The Icelandic reindeer farmer Stefán Hrafn Magnússon owns a reindeer station in South-Greenland. All his reindeer means a lot of reindeer skin. “We have already started working on it,“ Ditte says. “Reindeer skins are best used as whole skins for displays/decoration.“
Photos courtesy of Great Greenland
For more information visit www.greatgreenland.dk or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @greatgreenland
Tags: fashion design, fur, Great Greenland, greenlandic
Svava Jónsdóttir, who is Icelandic, has worked as a journalist for the past 25 years and has written four books. She has also translated a book by Carina Axelsson: Model Under Cover: A Crime of Fashion. Svava has a BA-degree in Spanish and literature, a diploma in journalism, a teaching certification and a diploma in international relations. Apart of working as a journalist, she’s also writing her MA thesis in international relations. Svava is a member of the board of the United Nations Association of Iceland. Her interests? Literature and music; she studied music for about a decade. And she likes to travel.
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