Can just anyone wear gákti?

Miss Finland 2005 and 2007 both wore “gákti” at the Miss Universe competition.

Finnish beauty Noora Hautakangas (photo) wanted to be special, so she used a copy of a gákti at the competition in Mexico. Rauni Äärelä of the Rovaniemi Sami association doesn’t like the idea, saying “The gákti is continuously used as if it were a national costume.” Contestants chose their own outfits under the National Costume portion of the competition. The Finnish participant wanted to come across as exotic and used a “gákti” from the dance group Rimpperemmi, which also uses them.

In 2005 Susanna Laine also represented Finland in a Sami outfit, but not an authentic one. The company Finnartist which arranges Miss Finland apologized for using a fake. It is not unusual that Finland advertises itself with copies of the Sami outfit. Recently during the Eurovision song competition, Finland was represented by people wearing outfits that Sami would never be seen wearing.

Sami on the Finnish side are unhappy and want this to end. “If someone is going to wear an outfit, they have to know how to wear it. It’s not just a matter of throwing something on that is both ugly and fake,” says Rauni Äärelä.

You can vote here about whether anyone should be allowed to wear
gákti . So far 70% say no.



Blogger admindude said...

Hi. Great post. We Igorots from the Philippine Cordilleras feel the same when others wear our costumes incorrectly and pretend that they are Igorots.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the 2007 use of the "gakti" also a fake? There are Sami in Finland who support it, and there is internal conflict. Apparantly two young Sami women personally went to Miss. Finland and gave her a "real gakti" and showed her how to put it on properly. I don't think there's consensus among Finnish Sami about the issue.It's "in" to be a reindeer herder these days in Finland.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Saami said...

Hi interesting article and responses. An answer to the last one: First of all only a few Saami are or where reindeer herders (also in the past). I cannot see why it should be fake to use a Saami gákti / kolt / kofte since these outfits still are part of a living culture in the Nordic countries. Many people in the Nordic nations use national outfits that are NOT part of any living cultures, we call them "bunad" in Norway. I would not criticise anyone for using these outfits even if some are made up - fantasy products without roots in historical traditions. It is ok that the woman used a Gákti, she is pretty and so is the outfit, but they should have chosen a real one.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I want a gakti. I'm an American of Swedish decent looking for my ethnic roots. I've traveled the world and every wear I go people dress in American custom's (nike's, baseball caps, ect..), but when I wear their sarong's, and poncho's they laugh at me. I don't see why I cant dress like in these other people's garments in return. If you're a Sami in Sweden we should talk. clogonfoot@gmail.com

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake - first of all, what you call "american custom's" is not an american traditional outfit, neither is it specifically US-american, it has evolved all over the world.

Second of all, some people feel that to wear their clothing you need to have some kind of connection to the area. I doubt you would know how to wear a gakti correctly, and like the Finnish people you would end up looking like a fool. The gakti says a lot about you - the area you come from, if you are married and which family you belong to. Many indigenous people feel that the Western colonization already has taken everything away from them, their land, their beliefs, sometimes their language. (stolen, forbidden etc) Why is it necessary for you to take the costumes too? Why can't the indigenous people have anything left for themselves?

There's a lot of pride in wearing your people's costume and you have to respect that.

If you still feel like wearing one I hope you realize that if you want to buy an authentic one, you can't buy them in shops along the road in Lappi län...

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, that was months ago!!! It's way to hot here in Los Angeles to wear that snow garb now. And no I surely wouldn't have any idea at all on how to wear a gakti, not until I befriended some Saami at least. Until then I'll just keep wearing my Balinese sarong, wrapped the traditional balinese way. The same sarong that I wore to Hindu temple with my Balinese family. It's good that your proud of your culture and heritage. I just wish I had the same connection to my tribal roots. I just hope the Saami keep their language, that's the most important thing in battling colonization.

Nike track suits are American. If people don't want to be colonized then why dress like American idiots?

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently my ancestors were Sami (At least some of them) and I've been researching them a little bit and found out about gakti. I've heard that Finns are wearing fake gakti and it only bothers me because I'm trying to look up and find pictures of REAL gakti so that I can see what it actually looks like! Most of it is the Finnish people's version of it. I'd be fine with Finns wearing gakti if it was real gakti worn (however that's spelled) correctly. Gakti seems awesome from what I've seen, and I think it would be awesome if it became popular as long as people knew the difference between real gakti and gakti inspired outfits.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whereas gávttit are traditional and a bit culture specific, that shouldn't stop anyone from wearing one if they want to unless they claim that it is real, as do some "Samilaiset" tourist agencies in Finland. I don't think that this model should have been reprimanded for it; on the contrary, I think the general Sámi consensus should have been a positive one because someone actually thinks their national gákti is beautiful and wants to show it to the world.

11:14 PM  

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