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A true multi-hyphenate creative, Denim Tears founder Tremaine Emory views art and design as means to the same end, shining an eclectic light on a cultural diaspora often overlooked through popular culture’s chasmic and monosyllabic lens. Emory’s collaboration with UGG is a deeply personal exploration of his great grandmother's Black Seminole heritage, incorporating inspiration found in associated iconography and craft techniques from the southeastern United States.

My grandmother is 95 years old. Once my grandmother goes, that’s it. There's no one else for me to talk to in my family about my great-grandmother. She's the last living person on Earth who knew my great-grandmother. How much more time does she have? Or do any of us have? So, this is my attempt to try to cement some history so that, maybe one day, five kids or the rest of my family know the history.

-- Tremaine Emory

Tremaine is on a deep dive to uncover more of his great grandmother’s history – stitching together his discoveries into wearable art. Rooted in Indigenous and Black American heritage, his work pays tribute to a unique tradition springing out of two cultures. There’s something sacred about this exploration into his Black Seminole past, which is also his future and his present. It's all about family. It's all about history and memorializing the stories that weren’t recorded due to the restraints of pervasive racism and the oppressive system of slavery.

Just putting things down that can't be erased, so maybe ten more people know now that Indigenous and African American communities are actually way closer than we thought.

-- Tremaine Emory

By unraveling his Black Seminole heritage, Emory found an overlap in his own family story within New Orleans and the Black Masking Culture community there (also referred to as the “Mardi Gras Indians”). These are terms that evolved in meaning throughout history initially, for some in New Orleans adopting this tradition, it was a way of creating their own celebration separate from the white French colonial tradition of Mardi Gras, while also paying respect to the Indigenous people in the region who helped those fleeing slavery. Today, the terms are also adopted by those who participate in the culture of wearing or creating intricate, artistic outfits in observance of Mardi Gras and its layered history. In many ways, Emory sees Mardi Gras as reflecting elements of both Black and Indigenous cultures in the southeast.

Emory showcases this inspiration in the footwear he created for UGG. Now, Tremaine is doing the work as family historian weaving this narrative through his artistic vision, and he commemorates the journey by reimagining our iconic Classic and Tasman styles as the canvas for his unique historical lens.

How UGG is Giving Back: The Backstreet Cultural Museum and The Guardian Institute

Denim Tears is a BIPOC-committed brand dedicated to telling the story of the vast African diaspora. UGG seeks to support organizations that further the knowledge of diverse experiences and is proud to donate a total of $50,000 to two nonprofits – the Backstreet Cultural Museum and the Guardians Institute – which both prioritize the preservation of traditions long held, but seldom told. Denim Tears’ Tremaine Emory intends for these donations to give back to the community that helped springboard his research into his own rich cultural history.


The Backstreet Cultural Museum, which informed Tremaine’s research into his heritage, carries an assortment of memorabilia related to Mardi Gras and other traditions found only in New Orleans. Keeping long held, but seldom told traditions alive in New Orleans, the museum was destroyed during Hurricane Ida and as part of this collaboration, UGG will donate $35,000 to help them rebuild.


The Guardians Institute was founded in New Orleans in 2006 by Herreast J. Harrison in honor of her late husband, Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr. The Institute is dedicated to the development of youth and focuses on literacy, the cultural arts of the larger Indigenous community, and the oral traditions of West African and American cultures. With a $15,000 donation to the Institute, UGG is helping to ensure the New Orleans youth community has access to the history of their people, and the elders who came before them.


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