Dawson designer takes Arctic fashion Outside

The run-down goes something like this: it’s eco-friendly, it capitalizes on renewable resources and is ethically harvested.

The run-down goes something like this: it’s eco-friendly, it capitalizes on renewable resources and is ethically harvested.

While it may sound like a forestry pitch, this is how Dawson City designer, Megan Waterman, described her first international export — the Skookum Brand anorak.

Her northern jacket was completed in September, after three years of drafting the final design.

In early May it took the spotlight on runways in Quebec at the North American Fur and Fashion Expose in Montreal.

 During the show Waterman went international, filling orders across Canada and the US.

With models sporting her three-season coat Waterman was selling both the jacket and a philosophy.

“Skookumizing” your wardrobe means buying into a new business model.

“It unites the trapper with the designer within marketing to the consumer,” said Waterman.

“Rather than just buying fur, making fur and selling it as a high-end product, we’re bringing a totally eco-conscious consumer perspective to it.”

Her business partner, Jake Duncan, is the main driving force behind the company’s approach, she added.

With a background in renewable resources management, the anorak blended Duncan’s needs with Waterman’s skills.

“He’s a fisherman, he’s a trapper, he comes at it from that perspective,” said Waterman.

Environmentally sensitive garment-making is key to Northern Garments Inc., the manufacturing arm of Waterman’s numerous clothing-related businesses.

“Fur is an environmentally conscious alternative, and nobody has marketed fur within the fur industry with this approach.”

Part of the Natural Ethical Wearable Fur program, Waterman’s clothing line helps promote “ethical fur, humanely harvested, as a renewable resource,” she said in a phone interview from Dawson.

“(The program uses) the environmentally conscious aspect, of the stewardship of the land as a marketing tool to promote northern designers and First Nations designers.”

And her relationship with trappers and First Nations designers is growing.

The premiere Skookum Brand anorak has a hood trimmed with wolf fur. And for the next generation of designs, Waterman may pull in Dene Fur Clouds from NWT for a knit beaver fur hood liner.

While materials are imported from across the country, each coat is made in the Klondike with northern pelts.

This lends an edge of authenticity to the coat and its eco-friendly philosophy, added Waterman.

Despite its journey to southern fashion shows, the garment is geared towards life North of 60.

“The main goal was to create a coat that was made to live in,” she said, noting the “Arctic three-season” anorak is wearable from September to April.

Sewn from breathable materials, would-be-anorak-wearers control its warmth by how many layers they slip on underneath.

When you’re stuck in a coat for eight months of the year, it becomes more than a swath of fabric, said Waterman.

“Your jacket is for survival,” she added.

“You have to trust your jacket. You have to know, when you go out into the elements, how it performs.

“It’s like having a relationship. You become involved with the garment.”

Sewing machines and fabric shears will be clicking away full swing this summer.

Waterman hopes to produce 250 coats by fall.

Each anorak fetches $595.

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