12 Years Crafted by Vietnam

Thomas Colliers

In the 12 years since it opened, Ginkgo has come a long way from its first 6 square meter storefront. Expanding on what it means to be crafted by Vietnam, the producer of premium clothing has developed a more nuanced style, opened new locations throughout the country and improved its sustainability efforts in coordination with the adoption of new materials.

Ginkgo was founded with the original mission to offer simple t-shirts to tourists who wanted to return home with a wearable reminder of their time in the country. The first designs often depicted obvious elements of Vietnamese culture such as the prevalence of chillies in the cuisine or the five basic elements. As time passed and new designers offered their perspectives, the company achieved a deeper, more profound relationship with the country which is reflected in more subtle images.

Ginkgo's very first store on 241 Pham Ngu Lao street, all 12 years ago!

If the early shirts, such as one depicting a silhouette of a Buddha statue, could be considered snapshots, then the newer ones are lively videos that record the dynamic country and reveal small details. Images such as a child’s shuttlecock game or the subtle gold veins on a leaf reveal how significant time in Vietnam has informed Ginkgo’s aesthetic. Rather than try to interpret the country, the new designs are inspired by it. Sometimes this means imagining Western themes such as little red riding hood through a Vietnamese lens. The shift has made it so Ginkgo no longer appeals to only tourists but anyone who appreciates the beauty, arts and culture of the country including residents and guests who make frequent trips to the country.

Having spent so many years in Vietnam, Ginkgo has had time to meet and appreciate a variety of other producers who share a commitment to craftsmanship and Vietnamese inspiration. Ginkgo now acts as a curator introducing people to fashion accessories, bags, cosmetics, coffee, chocolate, leather goods and board games from these local artisans that Ginkgo loves and wants to share.

Ginkgo Concept Store - an inspiring, culture-driven shopping spot featuring products that highlight the best of Vietnamese craftsmanship

In the same way that an expert furniture maker is particular about the wood they use or a painter demands certain brushes, as Ginkgo has refined its craftsmanship, it’s placed greater emphasis on materials. The team that creates all goods by hand in Saigon prefers working with hand-picked organic cotton because the delicate process brings them physically closer to their creations. Moreover, it is one of the first companies in Vietnam to use Supima, one of the finest cottons in the world. Similarly Ginkgo places increasing importance on sustainability and environmental consciousness by reducing the plastics they use and carefully sourcing. Moreover, like any artist who spends over a decade trying to improve their craft, Ginkgo’s technical sewing and embroidering skills have advanced alongside their eye for design. This has also allowed for a greater variety of items including pants, dresses and polos.

Ginko’s is able to find inspiration in new cities and regions due, in part, to its expansion throughout the country. There are now 10 Ginkgo stores including ones in Hanoi and Hoi An. Each location provides fodder for dynamic new subject matter such as colorful depictions of Hoi An’s lanterns.

One of Ginkgo's Flagship Concept Stores, tucked away in the middle of the serene ancient town of Hoian. 

The original store on Pham Ngu Lao is now a travel agency, which makes sense given the building’s size but also serves as a metaphor because Ginkgo has outgrown its aim of only selling t-shirts to people on vacation. As the company continues to grow, opens in new cities, learns more about the country to gain inspiration from and makes greater sustainability efforts, they will continue to crafted by Vietnam in rich and interesting ways. On August 8th they will celebrate the strides they’ve made while looking ahead to the future with a celebration of colors in-store and exclusive online and in-store offers.

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