The $2,000 Kamiik (Inuit Boots)


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If you had $2,000 to spend on footwear, how would you spend it? According to my rudimentary research on what is currently available at Saks Fifth Avenue, you could technically afford to buy all but 10% of Christian Louboutin, 2% of Jimmy Choo, and 1% of Manolo Blahnik shoe options.

*Disclaimer: As a result of my rural upbringing, I did not know what "Louis Vuitton" or "Coach" was until my first year of university. I probably should have asked Anubha for insight on appropriate shoe designers to reference (I'm guessing she strolled by these sorts of brands daily in T.O.) - I didn't. But I digress...

However, why would you spend $2,000 on fancy schmancy high heels when you could spend it on handy dandy kamiik?! (sometimes Anglicized as “kamiks”)

True story.

Over a year ago, a pair of these seal skin Inuit boots sold for $2,000. News of this unprecedented purchase quickly made its way to Twitter.

Here they are, folks:

Seal skin boots for $2000.
Seal skin boots for $2000.

You may not know it by just looking at them, but these boots are a labour of love. Traditionally, seal skins are personally chewed, meticulously hand sewn, and slowly transformed into absolute works of art. Accordingly, Inuit are receiving hard-earned (literally) cash for their beautiful footwear.

While you don’t necessarily need to spend $2,000 to own a pair, the advent of the Iqaluit Auction Bid Facebook group has led to a rise in prices. The website is devoted to auctioning handmade arts and crafts online. This is quite the feat given that auctions are, by nature, a fast-paced event and Arctic internet speed, or lack thereof, can be tormenting.

On Iqaluit Auction Bids, you’ll find all sorts of northern goods such as parkas, carvings, beadwork, and even cribbage boards made out of caribou antler. The website has been described as a “boon to Inuit artists” as it helps “increase Inuit handmade item productions/sales.”

So, are you interested in owning your own kamiik?

If you’re feeling cheap adventurous, you can make your own pair at the kamiik-making class offered by the Tukisigiarvik Friendship Centre here in Iqaluit. Be sure to sign up quick, though. The class is has rapidly gained in popularity, as evidenced by the class photos from 2010 and 2012.

If you’re feeling impulsive lavish, you can bid on this pair:

Iqaluit Auction Bid seal skin boots
Iqaluit Auction Bid seal skin boots

At the time of this blog posting, the current bid was $620 - a steal of a deal considering the potential cost! However, there is still a week to go before the auction closes. The bids will surely skyrocket...

If you'd like to see how a purchase plays out, here are some recently auctioned kamiik that quickly stole the hearts of many shoppers, and broke the hearts of those who were outbid:

$735

$840

$875

$955

$1000!!!

So what do you think? Ready for your own pair of sealskin Inuit boots?

Header photo courtesy of Mary Alice Tukkiapik.