it started with the desire to make what we couldn’t find.
a perfectly fitting jean...
or perhaps more precisely:
to make perfect jeans for our imperfect bodies.
in 2009 we set up shop in Nashville, Tennessee
in a 1950s service station.
we began with the simple hope to sew a perfectly fitting jean for a man and the companion jean for a woman.
it was our vision that this gas station would become a destination for lovers of good denim.
and the name would be imogene + willie.
( an excerpt from “our story” )
“willie and imogene, my maternal grandparents, signify our relationship with all of our grandparents...leo and sally, anthony and hazel, and james h. and gladys.
“imogene + willie honors those eight, as well as our parents and our siblings and their children and our aunts and uncles and cousins and their children that we love like our own.
“and then...our friends and the team at the shop might not be blood-related, but for sure, we all are one. and then we think what we want most for our children when we have them. we want them to experience that indescribable love from our parents, their grandparents - just like we were loved so much by ours.”
there’s something special about your first.
first pair, that is. and in this case,
the very first pair of imogene. and of willie.
we were raised on denim. for me it was growing up in the family business...where our hands and most things we own have always been stained blue.
before we officially started imogene + willie, we didn’t know exactly what our fits would be. but as seasoned collectors and lovers of good denim, we had a pretty good idea what we hoped to create. we knew the first fits should be the result of our own understanding
and deep appreciation of denim history paired with our personal need to make a jean that we actually wanted to wear. even having developed a keen eye for a great fitting jean, the task ahead would be easier said than done.
ultimately, these first two fits would have to be real jeans for real people. not for trends. not to suit an image or lifestyle. certainly not to replicate existing formulas within the industry.
our first women’s jean came from carrie’s personal desire for a truly flattering cut.
there simply wasn’t a jean that was perfectly fitting and equally flattering - thus our imogene was born.
simple, honest, and effortlessly feminine, imogene was named after carrie’s grandmother.
it was a mid rise with a stovepipe leg and slightly shifted back pocket that mixed 1940s traditions with more feminine styles from the ’70s.
the design behind this fit - and every women’s fit since - was intended to encourage the acceptance and celebration of a woman’s body.
“i want to die with my
blue jeans on.”
– Andy Warhol
most jean styles are born out of a fashion trend or modern innovation. our signature willie cut was created as a reaction to what wasn’t happening.
for our first men’s fit, matt began by pulling from his own personal archive of vintage jeans.
he taught himself to sew and set out to develop a fit that drew from the past, while working to incorporate a modern aesthetic.
it was through trial and error (and after several prototypes) that we landed on a suitable companion to our women’s imogene.
and thus, willie became our first men’s fit - a mid-rise straight leg constructed from Cone Mills rigid selvage denim.
those two fits became the basis of who we are...
setting the standards by which we have come to measure every fit we create.
in the early days, everything we made was designed and manufactured in our small Nashville shop. to put it simply, we couldn’t afford to do it any other way.
it was there in our shop that we learned what we would become.
we knew these fits wouldn’t be perfect for everyone, so we found a way to make them perfect.
in our small shop we would size, fit, and alter each pair per our customers’ needs.
we paid careful attention to varying requests: perhaps a slimmer calf, a lower rise, a less restrictive thigh, or a higher back rise. so when demand grew, we began to expand our offering of fits based on our most frequent requests from those around us.
the desire to have the imogene leg slimmed resulted in a modified fit, duly named imogene slim. the need for a slimmer men’s jean with a lower rise resulted in an entirely new fit named after carrie’s brother, barton.
the people who walk through our doors are not customers - they are our friends, our family, our neighbors...our loved ones.
it has been a beautiful process, and a learning process as well. every fit and every wash is the result of the people who have walked through our doors. imogene + willie will forever be shaped by the people around it.