Ginew Rethinks Denim and What it Means to Be Native in America

There’s been a big wave recently in designers who are proud of their ethnic backgrounds remaking modern pieces in ways that pay homage to their roots. The latest artists on our radar are a husband and wife duo from Portland, Oregon whose unisex line, Ginew, is the first of its kind as the only Native American owned denim label. 

After marrying in 2010, Amanda Bruegl and Erik Brodt began experimenting with leatherwork made from their marriage buffalo. “One thing led to another, and we ended up starting a tiny leather-goods business in our apartment,” said Bruegl. The couple continued with their start-up until 2014, when they decided to venture out into denim apparel. 

While we might not think of denim as a traditional Native American material, that’s kind of the point. Ginew seeks to make clothing in a way that’s representative of what it’s like to live a modern American life with a proud Native heritage. Many of their clothes feature subtle nods to their tribes (Ojibwa, Oneida, and Mohican) or were made with their ancestors in mind. Brodt says that, “Our approach is a way for us to be who we are—contemporary American Indian people—while not necessarily adhering to the stereotypes of what indigenous clothing or design must be.”