Designers have long known that clothing doubles as visual storytelling. When done right, fashion can be an impactful tool to make those around us take a moment and reflect—think of a punch graphic tee, or even a face mask. That’s exactly the sentiment Regina Jones had in mind when she launched Ginny’s Girl Gang, her line of hand-painted jackets with artful statements on them. She not only wants her customers to make a point—she wants them to look good doing it.
Jones is an indigenous artist (Gamilaraay) and a native of Australia. Though she is now based in Macon, Georgia, she grew up in Brisbane, Queensland around her indigenous culture. “My grandmother was born on a Mission, but I was raised as a city kid,” she says. Jones grew up around art and began painting at a young age, when she developed a specific passion for acrylic art. “Art is in our DNA,” Jones says. “Storytelling—whether it's dance, music, performance, writing—has always been in the background of my life.”Photo: Courtesy of Ginny's Girl Gang
Fashion, however, is newer territory for Jones. She only began painting jackets last year. The idea evolved after she made a custom jacket for a friend as a gift. “The first [jacket] I ever did was for one of my best friends, who is an indigenous musician in Australia,” she says. “It said ‘Royalty’ on the back. There’s the British interpretation of what royalty is, but we're all royal. I thought this would be a good way to remind her when she wears it—that she comes from a long line of royalty.” After that first piece, Jones began experimenting with applying other statements onto jackets, too; the demand quickly rose for her creations, which led to her focusing on Ginny’s Girl Gang full-time. The name has personal meaning to Jones: it’s what she and her three nieces call themselves whenever they’re together, and the label was started in their honor. “It’s for little girls who become women that are grounded in their culture and proud of who they are,” she says.Photo: Courtesy of Ginny's Girl Gang
Since its inception, Jones has created outerwear that brings awareness to indigenous culture and issues. “Strength of my Ancestors,” for instance, pays respect to those who have come before us. “I Pay My Respects To The Traditional Owners” and “Existing on Stolen Land” both make reference to the many indigenous tribes who existed and thrived pre-colonization. Often, she will surround these messages with her own contemporary take on indigenous art motifs (such as dot art). “I want what I paint to be like a moving, living billboard of what's important to [indigenous people]” she says. “It's about starting a conversation, whether it's with yourself or with each other. People who wear what I put out are open to having those conversations.”
Jones creates all of her works using acrylic paint and fabric medium, a thick fluid that helps the paint become waterproof, and each jacket takes 20-40 hours to make. Sometimes, Jones will also create custom pieces for clients as well, working with them to nail down a statement that encompasses what they wish to convey. “It’s a spiritual process to me,” she says. “I really get to know the person that I'm creating the jacket for. That’s the most important part and lengthiest part of the process. They're going to wear whatever this message is, and I really want to relay why that's so important to them.”Photo: Courtesy of Ginny's Girl Gang
Further, Jones will also produce special one-off pieces for a good cause: until June 19, she is auctioning off a jacket that reads “The Future Is Blak,” to raise funds for Sisters Inside, a nonprofit that provides aid to criminalized women and girls. (“Blak” is how many indigenous people identify in Australia, to acknowledge the black, indigenous natives who first arrived in the country. “C is for colonization, so we lose the C," says Jones.) The current bid is already at $1,400, up from a starting bid of $300.Photo: Courtesy of Ginny's Girl Gang