Like cornbread, sweet tea, and whiskey, Imogene + Willie is inseparable from their Southern roots. Since they opened the doors to their Nashville, Tennessee shop (which fittingly is located in an old gas station) back in 2009, Imogene + Willie have become really the only name in denim below the Mason Dixon line, which is why I was a bit surprised when I literally stumbled into their newest shop, located not in Austin, or Savannah, or Charlestown, but in Portland, Oregon.
Imogene + Willie’s second shop is situated comfortably between Tanner Goods and Poler Stuff on West Burnside in the Pearl District, which is fast becoming, for lack of a better term, the SoHo of Portland (or at least, as much of a SoHo as a city like Portland can have.) From the moment you walk in, the store transplants you down south, with antique ephemera like faded folk signs, horseshoes, and beat up work boots almost stealing the spotlight from the I+W wares. Additionally, the store gets a dose of the southwest thanks to a hefty helping of indigo jewelry, cacti, and Native Americana.
No matter what the geographical root of these tchotchkes may be, they all pack that sun-soaked and storied vibe that is undeniably Imogene + Willie. So much of I+W’s founders, Carrie and Matt Eddmenson’s success can be attributed to their authenticity. The denim world is constantly reaching for some concrete heritage to hold onto, but for Imogene + Willie, there’s no need to go searching for it, because it’s in their blood.
During his lifetime, Carrie’s grandfather had founded a company that provided denim to brands like RRL and Levi’s, a company that Carrie and Matt would both work for before starting Imogene + Willie. I+W’s Portland shop, like each pair of selvedge jeans, or chambray shirt they sell, feels so natural because it is natural for the Eddmenson’s. All you have to do is look to the right of the cash register and spot the pair of portraits of Carrie’s grandparents – one of Willie and one of Imogene, to understand that for I+W, this isn’t fabrication, it’s familial. And while Portland is a logical extension for the brand, I can bet that no matter where Imogene + Willie set up shop next, it will feel right at home.
Comments on “A Taste of Nashville in Portland | Imogene + Willie”
The addition of the skulls is awesome! Why did you choose to put it at the end instead of start? Asking cause I think having it as the first picture would entice me more.
Been there. Cool space. Cool block, actually. Love the Tanner Goods and Poler stores too.
I see a really great looking retail environment on a humble scale. And excellent looking merchandise to boot! I love those reclaimed wood shelves that have been slightly sanded and of course the soldered copper pipes for hanging merch is perfect!
I live in Nashville and love I&M. I have their jeans in my closet. But saying they are the “only name in jeans below the Mason Dixon line” is a little over the top. Just because they have received the lion’s share of the publicity doesn’t mean they have the only good thing going. As a singular example, check out billiamjeans.com. Hand made in Greenville, SC.
Funny story: The staff there seemed fairly excited to have Southerners in their shop. (I’m from Atlanta.) We talked about the origins of the business and the original shop in Nashville.
Freeman’s Sporting Club manufactures jeans in Georgia, Pointer Brand makes denim for Comme des Garcons in Tennessee, Noble Denim contracts cut-and-sew to a factory in Tennessee, and there’s that wee little company in North Carolina called Cone.
Bob Davis, formerly of Lizard Lounge in PDX runs the shop there. Bob is a mensch’s mensch. Shows the integrity of of I+W.
Alabama Goat: not to forget Raleigh Denim in NC.
That’s right Pat. Tell that to Mencken.
I absolutely love there Nashville store, swung in while on my honeymoon two years ago, picked up a pair of bartons and only stopped wearing them for a week for some minor repairs! ( yes i’ve washed them a couple times). Looking forward to continue purchasing this great brand and visiting this store someday in the future.
Been to the Nashville shop. Really nice shop. Really nice people.
Great news. I look forward to visiting. Gotta point out an error in your PDX geography though – this shop is west of Burnside and therefore not in the Pearl.
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