🇳🇴 Saami Start-up Triumph in Brussels: Gobmi Receives Laurence Trân Arctic Futures Award

Press release from the Arctic Economic Council

November 29, 2023

Today International Polar Foundation together with the Arctic Economic Council have awarded Gobmi with Laurence Trân Arctic Futures Award for their contribution to the sustainable development in the Arctic communities.

“The future of the Arctic is young people living there, it is about entrepreneurship. If we don’t create new businesses why is there a reason to live there. It is true that not so many people live in the Arctic. It makes a massive difference when people outside of the Arctic decide to support entrepreneurship in the Arctic,” says Mads Qvist Frederiksen, Executive Director of the Arctic Economic Council.

Gobmi is a young clothing brand inspired by the Saami culture. In 2021, two sisters, Hanna Moen Reinsnes and Live Moen Johannessen, launched a fashion company to reconnect with their indigenous heritage.

“It is really great that the Saami designs get recognition. We have a very proud culture of traditional handicraft – duodji. But also so many Saami designers who are taking materials and elements of traditional Saami duodji to modern closing. Many are taking saami materials and telling Sami stories through streetwear. Thank you for supporting Saami design and Saami business,” says Anja Márjá Nystø Keskitalo from  Saami Council.

Laurence Trân Arctic Futures Award

We talked with Hanna Moen Reinsnes and Live Moen Johannessen about the Gobmi concept.

How did you decide to start your own business within the fashion industry?
It all began when we discovered our Sami heritage after a family member grew old and became ill, suddenly speaking Sami. This initiated a journey for us, where we are reclaiming our Sami culture and identity, which had almost been lost in the generations before us. Gobmi is a part of this journey. 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. 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.

Could you share the artistic currents and inspirations that shaped your design?
In our designs, we use clothing as a canvas for storytelling, blending simplicity with deep cultural narratives. For example, our Bearaš collection revives the ládjogaphir, a traditional Sami horn hat, once banned and now symbolizing resilience and pride. We also incorporate sustainable materials like reindeer leather, reflecting Sami traditions of harmony with nature. Each piece is a tribute to our heritage, crafted to be timeless, authentic, and modern.

What role does the indigenous culture have in today’s fashion industry?
Indigenous cultures in the fashion industry, like our Sami heritage, can really help in spreading a message of diversity and sustainability. Just as we discovered our roots later in life and incorporated them into Gobmi, these cultures bring unique perspectives that are often rooted in deep respect for the environment and a rich, diverse heritage. This approach not only adds to the variety in fashion but also promotes a more sustainable and culturally inclusive industry.

Anja Márjá Nystø Keskitalo from Saami Council and the Trân Family

What sustainable solutions does Gobmi offer to the industry?
At Gobmi, our sustainability efforts include using eco-friendly textiles and working with ethical European factories. Significantly, we incorporate CLO-3D technology in our design process. CLO-3D allows us to create accurate 3D fashion models digitally, reducing the need for physical prototypes. This approach not only conserves materials but also streamlines our design process, making it more efficient and environmentally friendly.

What are the challenges of running a business in the Arctic?
Running a business in the Arctic presents unique challenges, such as limited accessibility, extreme weather conditions, and logistical complexities. These factors can impact everything from sourcing materials to shipping products.

What are your ambitions for Gobmi for the following years?
Our ambition for Gobmi in the coming years is to continue expanding our reach, bringing Sami-inspired fashion to a broader audience globally. We aim to deepen our commitment to sustainability and cultural representation, while innovating in design and production to meet the evolving needs of the fashion industry.

Photo credit: Gobmi

Originally published on 29 November by the Arctic Economic Council.

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