Finland is an interesting country for many reasons such as its capital is the most wired city, the first country that allowed women to vote, and it is the home of Santa Clause. Traditional Finnish clothing is just as interesting and varies from region. You can still observed the costumes on special occasion and national holiday celebrations.

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The West Finnish costume and the Karelian are very similar, but have a few differences. West Finnish dress has a high collared smock, a skirt with stripes, apron, wool jacket and white socks with black shoes. Karelian costume is decorated lavishly and has a smaller shaped head covering than West Finnish costume. The caps are usually only worn by married women. Both of these types of dress came from Viking heritage and were influenced by Sweden.

 The other type of dress comes from the Nordic region of aboriginal people called the Sami who wear Gakti. The Sami are often associated with reindeer herding. Reindeer leather and fur are traditionally the material used to create the Gakti, but most are made from Wool, Silk, or cotton. The garments are green, blue, red, or white and do not vary from this color scheme. The women wear the traditional long tunic belted with either leather or hand woven belt. A fringed shawl is layered on with multiple silver broaches holding it together. In the winter a fur cape or “pesk” is layered beneath the shawl and paired with Fur boots that curve up dramatically at the toe and have woven shoe laces to match the rest of the Gakti. Men wear a similar tunic that is “jacket-shirt” and shorter than the female tunic. The men’s clothing is made from the same materials and Hats are made of wool, leather, or fur.

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Each Gakti has symbols and shows the material status of an individual. It shows what family and region you belong to because each has a different pattern weave for trim on the tunic, shawl, and belt.

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Santa Clause was depicted on the 1930’s Coca-Cola ad campaign by a Swedish painter; this set the modern “uniform” of Santa. This modern outfit is similar to the Gakti in the red color tunic style jacket-shirt edged with fur and held up with a leather belt. One also must comment on the similarity of Christmas elves’ shoes and outfits to the pointed boots worn by Sami people.

The most modern interp

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relation of this look can be seen on the runway and on the streets through fur capes. Just last week during NYFW Carolina Herrera had a fashion show that featured fur on the majority of her looks. Finland is one of the largest exporters of fur and it is impossible to miss the influence of Finland on the fur industry. Curled toe cowboy boots seen in Mexico are a humorous evolution of the Gakti boot. Shawls with broaches have been popular in the United States for decades, but is not typically worn over fur like the Gakti costume.

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The Gakti ,among other folk wear, served as inspiration for Matthew Williamson’s 2013 London Fashion Week show. The picture below is a picture tweeted from the fashion label’s twitter of a mood board that inspired the collection.

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The Gakti is an interesting article of clothing that has inspired everything from goofy shoes to Santa.

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