Living the American Dream: Imogene + Willie
Last Thursday marked the birthday of our neighbours the United States of America. This day in 1776, thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, and effectually told their oppressive rulers to leave them be. As the USA grew, the concept of “The American Dream” also developed; the dream that with work and effort, everyone in America could be successful. I’ve noticed lately that this concept has become more of a dream than an ideal that people strive for. Some people and brands seem to be only living half-heartedly and not going into each venture with their absolute all.
I’ve had the pleasure of profiling quite a few brands and shops on this site and it seems that for each one, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and converse with people that carry with them the strong work ethic, love and conviction for their work and product that was once associated with the American Dream. One such brand and shop that I take great pleasure in profiling, if you haven’t made their acquaintance, is Imogene + Willie.
They’re absolutely no exception to the convictions of the American Dream. Based in Nashville TN, they perhaps carry one of the more striking stories that I have had the pleasure of hearing. The people at Imogene +Willie in fact, live the American Dream; pouring love, work and passion into every aspect of their business.
Owners Carrie and Matt Eddmenson decided to start their business in 2004 after an influential trip to NYC and an encounter with a pair of Levi’s Rigid Jeans. Soon after, the Eddmensons began producing their own denim pieces and, after a series of trial and error prototypes, Matt felt that their first fit had been perfected.
From there the two produced a small inventory and sent them out to some of the heavy hitters in the denim industry including Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler. These larger companies took notice of their unique work and enlisted the help of the pair as a think-tank for future pieces.
After a time of working hand-in-hand with major companies, Matt and Carrie decided to strike out on their own. Thus began Imogene and Willie. The brand was named in honor of grandparents on both sides of the family; representing how family, especially grandparents, shape who you are as a child and support you as you grow.
Carrie’s family has been in the textile and denim industry for over twenty years, so it’s safe to say that the two knew a little bit of what they were getting into when they took the first steps in starting their venture.
Their goal, like most brands in our denim market, was to provide a pair of strong, well-fitting jeans for their customers. They work toward that goal today by sourcing the finest fabric that America can provide (that’s Cone Mills denim) that was woven on antique shuttle looms to emulate old time quality. The fits (as mentioned before) were devised through many prototype pieces. Once the basic fits were designed each jean was tailored to its wearer.
Before long, the couple began to search for a workshop to produce their goods from – a search that led them to an old gas station located in Nashville, TN which struck them and became their home. In a surprising turn of events their initial trip to begin renovations turned into a permanent move, and Imogene + Willie opened its doors for business while construction and renovation was still under way.
Customers of the Imogene +Willie flagship didn’t seem to mind the chaos of the operation one bit. In fact, business has been booming since the shop opened in 2009. The shop carries Men’s and Women’s fits of Imogene + Willie jeans. On the men’s side of things, you can find their Willie, Barton, Barton Slim, Hank, and Hencye fits in addition to I+W’s very own lines of shirts. The women’s line consists of the Jessie Skimmer, Elizabeth and Pontes fits of pants each of which come in a wide variety of both colours and washes.
Keeping in line with the brand’s strong theme of family, all of the fits are named after Matt and Carrie’s family members or close friends. Sitting alongside their strong apparel line, Imogene + Willie also sports a very fine curation of rare and one of a kind accessories.
If you live in the Nashville area, be sure to make a stop in to 2601 12th Avenue South. For those not so lucky, head over to their website to get a more in depth look into their story a better view of the Imogene + Willie line.