Native American-owned premium denim label, Ginew, is incorporating tribal customs with American workwear and motorcyle culture to create an authentically symbolic and unique collection.
The Ginew collection of menswear and womenswear includes denim coats and down vests lined with symbolic tribal prints, as well as selvedge jeans, wax canvas rider jackets, and denim jackets with custom patches.
Founded by husband-and-wife team Erik Brodt and Amanda Bruegl in 2011, each item incorporates elements of their Native American (Ojibwe, Oneida, Mohican) and craftsmen heritage, and is designed to last a life’s journey. The couple, who are from Wisconsin and live in Portland, Oregon, come from a family of blacksmiths, farmers, machinists, sawyers, and welders.
The idea for Ginew came about after the couple’s 2010 wedding, when they crafted a series of belts from their wedding buffalo – to give as gifts to those who helped with the ceremony. While Ginew’s first items were leather accessories, Erik Brodt and Amanda Bruegl branched out in to denim and clothing in 2014.
The couple said: “We are Ojibwe, Oneida, and Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican from the Great Lakes and we include our family stories and tribal symbols in each garment we make. We do not borrow or ‘draw inspiration’ from other tribes in our collection. Rather, we explore our own family and tribal history. It is through this exploration that we are able to express our Indigenous identities in a contemporary context AND share this with the world.”
Naturally storytelling and sustainability, which is an integral part of the collective indigenous way of life throughout the world, is at the heart of Ginew.
Each item Ginew make draws direct inspiration from their relatives – like the Wax Canvas Rider Jacket, for instance, which was inspired by Amanda Bruegl’s grandfather and early Harley Davidson motorcycle club jackets. The rider jacket pays homage to her grandfather who commuted weekly from the Mohican Indian Reservation to weld for Harley Davidson during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Every resource is used in a resourceful manner, ensuring that there is a part to play for every fibre of a material in one of Ginew’s products – deerskin leathers are used as trimmings on jackets and jeans. The clothing is also constructed to last.
The beauty of Ginew’s denim collection is in its ability to merge classic and simplicity with Native American heritage. The Selvedge Denim Vest, for instance, looks like a classic denim vest, then it gives way to a colourful and magickal piece of lining featuring a merged design of traditional Ojibwe and Oneida symbols.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com