In the world of fashion and apparel, the intrigue of the new and now is paramount. New styles, new cuts, new fabrics, new trends. We often think of our closets as revolving doors, ever expanding with the newest must-have from the ranks of fast fashion. With how inexpensive clothing has become, why not accumulate? Aside from the rare special occasion piece, a consideration for “heritage” couldn’t be further from our closets. But even in an industry built on consumeristic clamor, the tides are beginning to change, winding back the clock on our clothes-crazed culture to a time when garments were designed to be long-lasting rather than short-lived, made for quality rather than consumption.
Few brands have taken on this fashion impossibility quite like husband and wife Erik and Amanda of Ginew (gah-noo). Ginew is a heritage-driven exploration of the couple’s collective past, drawing inspiration from the legacy of their Native American grand and great-grandparents, and from the path they’ve forged together. And would you believe it all started with a buffalo? As we sit in Erik and Amanda’s new home in Portland, Erik stretches his hand up to begin the story. “Ginew began right there,” he says, pointing to a pair of buffalo horns hanging above the mantle. “That was our wedding buffalo, the one that my dad and I shot for our ceremony. We shot it, hauled it, skinned it, fleshed it, and tanned it with our family. In the end we had the hide left over, and Amanda and I wanted to make something really unique with it for the people who participated in our wedding. We ended up making buffalo belts for everyone.” It was a gift wrought from their deepest values, that would in turn provide new ways of harnessing their past into a future purpose.
While making those first few belts, Erik went to Austin, TX to brush up on his technique with an experienced leatherworker. “My great grandfather used to work with leather, so I had all of these tools that my dad gave me of his. They were a link to a past that I wondered about.” The spark of mystery and connection he felt working in the leather shop soon surpassed their wedding date. “It was in our early Texas years, not even a year married when things started to gather some momentum. That’s also when we met Natalie [Davis of Canoe Goods], who provided so much great mentorship.” From bouncing ideas off one another and swapping techniques with Natalie came other introductions within a small, close-knit community of makers and creatives in Austin, including the folks behind Folk Fibers, L A N D, Ft. Lonesome, Petrified Design, KKDW, Salt & Time, Garin & Mel Fons, Dana Falconberry, Cobra Rock Boots, Garza Marfa – and the list goes on. “The influence of the collaborative community that we entered through chance that began with meeting that group in Austin cannot be overstated.”