She turned Canada Goose down in 2018 when the global brand wanted to work with Victoria’s Arctic Fashion on the original Project Atigi, but Rankin Inlet’s Victoria Kakuktinniq couldn’t say no this time.
“I had my store in Iqaluit and couldn’t dedicate the right amount of time to the project,” said Kakuktinniq about the 2018 opportunity.
“We stayed in touch and when they reached back out for this third collection, I knew I had to take it.”
Canada Goose’s Project Atigi was developed to create social entrepreneurship opportunities for Inuit designers by leveraging the company’s platform to showcase Inuit craftsmanship. The proceeds from the collection go to Inuit communities through Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Kakuktinniq worked as the special guest designer for the 2022 edition of the project. She created three styles: Kakuktinniq Parka, Kakuktinniq Down Jacket and Kakuktinniq Jacket.
“This collection is inspired by my upbringing and tells my story in many different ways,” said Kakuktinniq.
“Just like my personal collections, the colour palette is inspired by the Northern Lights – a tribute to the night sky from my hometown of Rankin Inlet. Colour-blocking is also featured on each of the styles, a detail I often include in my designs.”
She also created the unique tattoo trim seen throughout the collection.
“The tattoo trim is not only my story but the story of my culture and heritage,” said Kakuktinniq. “Inuit have a long history of traditional tattooing. The designs and their meanings vary between people and communities. This specific design represents memorable events in my life, my strength and is a tribute to my parents and daughter, who have always been so supportive.”
The design process took a year and a half. Kakuktinniq enjoyed collaborating with Canada Goose and learning along the way. Her goal was to marry the traditional with modern styles.
She called the project empowering.
“Sewing traditional garments is an important part of life in the North, for Inuit especially,” said Kakuktinniq. “This skill has been passed down from generation to generation. We are artists, we tell our stories through our product. It’s more than just our livelihood, it’s a way of life.”
And bringing those designs to the global stage helps celebrate, educate and inspire people beyond Canada, she added.
Kakuktinniq was especially proud to work on this project to showcase sustainable fur.
“As an Indigenous woman, I strongly advocate for the use and promotion of sustainable fur,” she said. “As an Inuk, whose communities and livelihoods depend on being able to survive in harsh Arctic climates, and whose traditional way of being works in harmony with the land, and the abundance of resources that the land provides, it is imperative that I advocate for and stay true to this traditional way of being.”
Asked her thoughts on the direction of the fashion industry and how Inuit and Indigenous artists can play a role, Kakuktinniq said there is a global shift going on from “fast fashion” to sustainable fashion.
“Indigenous-made clothing and accessories are typically made in a way that supports Indigenous communities, utilizes sustainable products like furs and skins, and are made by hand with recycled fabrics or more environmentally friendly materials, not en masse in factories,” she said.
“I think consumers are making a conscious shift to slow down, shop with purpose and support businesses that uplift community and drive towards reduced environmental impacts. Indigenous brands embody that. We are gate keepers of the land and utilize practices that have been around for hundreds and thousands of years.”
Proceeds from the first and second Project Atigi collections totalled more than $165,000. Canada Goose hopes to exceed those numbers with this new one.