Monday, August 23, 2010

Nashville, TN + Raleigh, NC Indie Jeans Companies = Southeastern Denim Love

Okay, as you all are well aware, I'm a huge, huge sucker for any DIY, craft scene, or small manufacturing success story. It makes my entrepreneurial heart go pitter-pat. Well, today, folks, I have to share not one, but TWO success stories of an epic nature that makes me even prouder to be a transplanted Yankee turned Southern gal.

Within the past two days I ran into two tales about high-end, detail-oriented, back-to-roots jeans that have taken the fashion world by a storm. Each of these tales is based right here in the Mid Southeast.

The first tale comes from none other than my very own adoptive home town--Nashville, Tennessee. Out of a non-descript converted gas station, the company Imogene + Willie has risen out of obscurity in the past year to being sought after by celebrities (according to this story, Gwyneth Paltrow wears their denim.) Their story has been featured in Southern Living, Garden & Gun, and even the New York Times Magazine. The owners have a family background in denim, and their passion shows in their work. Currently, their jeans sell in their Nashville location and an Austin, Texas store called Stag, but two years ago when their idea for a company was in its infancy, they sold 250 limited-edition pairs of jeans to their e-mail contact list to finance the start-up. Hmmmm. Sounds like good to me! Might have to borrow that one. If you get an email from me in the next year, you'll know where I got the idea.

I wish I had an image to show for the Imogene + Willie brand, but you'll have to go to The Nashville Scene's current issue or click on the link above for it, as I don't have permission to just indiscriminately post shots and they don't have a web presence. They're worth a look, though! 

The second tale is just a long day's drive away in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the denim is just as meticulously crafted into men's jeans that have been flying off the shelves of none other than Barney's in New York City and Los Angeles. This couple, much like the first, are passionate about what they do, but what really stood out to me is the Cinderella story of their success. In their video interview, they say that they started literally from nothing, selling off some personal items to buy their first three machines--which they knew nothing about--and installed said machines in their near-empty apartment. Now they have hired at least a dozen people to help them assemble their jeans, but they still personally sign each pair with a black Sharpie to indicate just how seriously they take the quality of their work. If they can't sign off on it, they won't sell it.

Raleigh Denim: Handcrafted in North Carolina from David Huppert on Vimeo.

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