Award winner Sámi clothing start-up, between modernity and tradition | Polarjournal
When Gobmi designers revisit reindeer leather clothing, it gives this result. An ultra-modern look for equipment traditionally used by the Sámi. Here, the set is 100% reindeer leather, comes from wild animals and has buttons made from reindeer antler. Presented in a parade, these pieces are intended to be a tribute to the nature of Sápmi. Images: Gobmi

A young Norwegian Sámi start-up won the Laurence Trân Arctic Futures Award at the last Arctic Futures Symposium. Resolutely trendy, modern and sustainable, the clothing created by the young company is anchored in Sámi traditions.

Live Moen Johannessen and Hanna Moen Reinsnes are from Áltá, in northern Norway, where they grew up in the heart of Sápmi (a region also known as Lapland), close to Sámi culture. A heritage they discovered when a family member, old and ill, suddenly started speaking Sami. A trigger for the two sisters who then initiated a journey in search of an identity that was almost lost with previous generations.

Novices in the field of fashion, the two sisters nevertheless found a way to embrace their cultural heritage by creating a clothing brand, Gobmi, a word which means ghost in Sámi. “Clothing plays a significant role in people’s identity, and the idea arose when we were searching for clothing that was both casual and modern while simultaneously conveying elements of our Sami culture.“, they recently declared in an interview published on the Arctic Economic Council website. “Since we didn’t find what we were looking for, we decided to do it ourselves, even though we do not have any experience in the fashion industry.”

Like other Sámi designers, Live Moen Johannessen and Hanna Moen Reinsnes, are inspired by duodji, a traditional craft practiced by the Sámi. Both practical and functional, handicraft objects even use materials from reindeer and nature, such as wood. Image: Gobmi

The start-up Gobmi was launched in 2021, already getting noticed on social networks and in the media with a few pieces. After a first nomination for an award in the fashion field and a publication in the prestigious Vogue fashion magazine, the young company was named among the three most promising start-ups as part of the Arctic Accelerator program in 2021. Building on this successful, the two sisters made investments and financing and are launching their first collection, called “Bearaš” (family), in fall 2022.

Two women kissing and wearing the ládjogaphir. This traditional Sámi headgear was banned for over 100 years because it was believed that the devil lived in the horn of the hat. Today a symbol of resilience and pride, it appears in the Bearaš collection. A way of recalling both the heritage and history of the Sámi, adding a touch of modernity. Image: Gobmi.

A year later, Gobmi won the Laurence Trân Arctic Futures Award at a ceremony held in Brussels. Of the 18 candidates selected, Gobmi convinced the jury with its modern clothing, which is inspired by its Sámi heritage and which responds to a real effort towards sustainability.

Indeed, in an industry often criticized for the pollution it generates and the disastrous working conditions it provides to employees often living in poor countries, the young start-up uses textiles that respect the environment and collaborates with ethical European factories. And to further limit its impact on the environment, Gobmi uses CLO-3D, a software which allows, in the design process, to limit physical prototypes and therefore materials.

The Laurence Trân Arctic Futures Award was created in 2022 at the initiative of the International Polar Foundation, a scientific organization based in Brussels, Belgium. The prize, worth €7,500, aims to provide financial assistance to an early-stage Arctic-based start-up to further develop their business.

The prize was awarded on November 29 as part of the Arctic Futures Symposium, a conference organized by the International Polar Foundation which was held in Brussels on November 28 and 29.

Link to the Gobmi website: https: //

Mirjana Binggeli, PolarJournal

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