Imogene + Willie co-founders Carrie and Matt Eddmenson help put Nashville fashion on the map.
Led by husband and wife duo Carrie and Matt Eddmenson, Nashville-based Imogene + Willie helped turn the city into a denim destination with a store that provides customers an authentic Nashville experience, taking them beyond shopping.
Walking into the Imogene + Willie store is like strolling through a vintage flea market inside of an old gas station—because that’s exactly what it was. In 2009, after three years of marriage, the couple opened the shop in a 1950s service station, renovating it enough to be modern but maintaining the rugged authenticity of the structure.
Stocked with the brand’s full collection and decorated with antique rugs and treasures on the inside, the store’s backyard has become the setting for the popular “supper + song” series. During the warmer months, the Eddmensons open the yard and invite bands to perform for the community. The events, with their one-of-a-kind aesthetic, have helped make the retailer much more than a store.
Why are you drawn to denim?
Carrie: Nature and nurture. For 25 years, I grew up in the family business of making blue jeans. In this case, nurture set us up to truly admire and adore denim—both the cloth and the actual pant.
What is the biggest challenge that you've had to overcome as a retailer?
Carrie: One of our big challenges is constantly working to stay on top of the ever-changing digital landscape. Based on our history and background, we tend to think about the physical brick and mortar experience—which we actually think of as an advantage. We have to challenge ourselves to adapt that approach to digital to ensure we are doing our best to duplicate the in-shop experience online.
What do you wish you would see more of from denim brands?
Carrie: From American brands, we wish to see more country of origin tags to read “Made in the U.S.A.”
Why do you think your customers return?
Carrie: I feel like those who return believe in us and are cheering us along. If you were to ask a customer why they return, my hope is that they would say that they come back because it’s like going home.
What's exciting you about denim in 2019?
Carrie: It’s hard for us to speak to denim, globally, as we’ve been hunkered down in our own bunker, working to improve upon everything we do, including a fierce spirited effort to bring premium denim fabric construction back to the U.S. The view from the bunker? It’s exciting to observe our customer feeling really good about themselves when they pull up their jeans.