Photography by Laura Dart
Refueled pal Matt Eddmenson opened Imogene+Willie with wife Carrie in the retrofitted former gas station in Nashville a few years back. Identified solely by a orange plus sign out front, Imogene+Willie have garnered a loyal fan base through word of mouth, artisan craftmanship and incredible attention to detail.
Occupation: Brand Creator // Imogene+Willie
When did you design your first pair of jeans?
I designed my first pair of jeans when I worked for Carrie’s family at Sights Denim. I studied under Carrie’s brother Bart for almost two years before I was given an opportunity to design for a client. Of course, being a very hands-on type person, I wanted to build the pattern, sew the garment, make adjustments, and fit the jean all by myself. It wasn’t until I realized that each pair of jeans becomes a work of art that I figured out what I was actually good at. I thought it would be cool to sew it myself, so during lunch and at night I worked on the first pair I designed. It took a little over a week, but in the end, with our patternmaker Nestor’s help, I did it.
What did you learned about construction/style after the first pair?
I learned a lot. The most important lesson was how difficult it is to get it right. That experience really gave me an appreciation for quality. It’s a very difficult thing to make a pair of jeans and make them right! Deciding on a style comes naturally to me - not saying that I’m any good at it, but I’ve never really had a problem deciding on what I like. I know it immediately. It’s always been “less is more” aesthetic for me!
For you, what is the perfect fit/finish/wash?
For someone that owns a denim brand, people find it hard to believe that I only have two pairs of jeans. I get a new pair of our Willies each year. The great thing about wearing your jeans in from their original rigid state is the different stages they go through every month. I recently spilled toilet bowl cleaner with bleach on my jeans, and I’ll never forget where and what I was doing when that happened whenever I look at that stain. Your jeans are a timeline of your life. As for the wash, I’m all about washing your jeans, but only after a certain amount of wear has been established. I would say a good rule of thumb is to wait six months to a year after wearing them every day.
Being a history buff like myself, are there any small details from the past that you honor and incorporate into Imogene+Willie jeans?
That’s a great question, and of course, the answer is yes! We honor an age-old tradition: our jeans are made in American, by Americans. What we can’t sew in-house we outsource to other makers in Small Town, USA. We all take a lot of pride in our brand and quality is job one. I don’t want to come off sounding cliché, but this is the one thing we do that we feel can really change the state of the world we live in. You can’t buy everything made in America, but if you try, you can come close. If history has taught us anything, it’s that this great country of ours will be in even more trouble than it already is if we don’t support the work of our fellow Americans.
When designing other items for the brand, such as tees, where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration is always around, but I can get an idea in my head just as quick as I can lose one. I’m always thinking about ways to design into a concept. It’s probably my favorite thing to do besides redesign the store layout. But at the end of the day, both Carrie and I are most inspired by our families. We have a family story for almost any occasion. This is the heart of our brand and something we hold very dear to our hearts!
You’re a big collector of vintage clothing. What do you look for? What can be learned from clothing of the past?
I love motorcycles - so much that my wife is about to be fed up with the whole thing. I probably spend at least two hours a day researching and learning about their history. I just can’t help it! I’ve always been that way about things. That’s how I learned the history of denim. I’m just get obsessed. I think it’s how I’ve made it through life this far: I can sit and look at a garment all day and watch as different details come to life. So much can be learned from the way things were done in the past. I hope that we can remember
that going into the future.
This summer Corey Smith headed up to his home town of Portland Oregon along with filmer Kevin Castanheira and friends. They laughed, they cried, they partied, they spent too much money at Sassy’s, and they built some handmade primitive wooden snowboards.
Occupation: Artist // Pro Snowboarder // Art Director, Comune Clothing
Explain the "Spring Break" snowboard project.
Spring Break is an experimental snowboard company/art project. They are handmade wooden, edgeless, powder specific snowboards.
What inspires the look and design of each board?
I draw inspiration from a variety of places including 70's surf board shapes, 80's snowboard shapes, as well as science fiction movies, and my friends who help me come up with wild new shapes.
When not in snow, they become pieces of art, right?
They are always pieces of art. Some are more functional and some are more conceptual. They look wonderful on the wall as well as on the snow.
Your "business model" is as unconventional as the boards. What's the "Spring Break" donation plan?
Send me a minimum donation of $500 and I'll make you a handmade wooden snowboard. If you break it within a year I'll make you a new one. If you want to trade out for another board in quiver you can. I want to encourage people to try different shapes and get creative.
Any plans to experiment with surfboards?
I would love to. I have some unique ideas for surfboards as well.
What's next for "Spring Break"?
I'm going to make some new boards for this winter and hopefully ride lots of deep powder. I'd like to film a full length Spring Break film.
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