Product + Experience = Power Brand. The Imogene+Willie Jeans Story
This is a Fashion Friday Mashup. It’s as much about a fashion trend as it is about how to create a brand and a customer experience that matches the brand promise. This week I bought my first pair of Imogene + Willie Jeans after my friend Zach Sutton showed up in church wearing a pair and sent me to their website. You probably have never heard of them. You will. This is a husband and wife team, Carry and Matt Eddmenson who have created not only a business, but a story, an experience and a product that embodies both.
The cornerstone of Imogene + Willie Jeans is their unwashed jeans you have to break in over several wears. They suggest you only wash them every six months and even then do it gently. I’m breaking in my pair as I write this post. The jeans is simple without embroidery, holes, snaps or any big logos. Besides the dark color and stiffness, the only logo is a small “+” sewn on the right pant leg.
The boutique, design studio and small manufacturing facility is housed in an old gas station on the historic 12 South district of Nashville. “Quaint” does not do the place justice. The sewing area starts where the “showroom” ends creating a feeling of buying art. Where the artists brushes and canvases share the same space with his creations. The space is filled with old leather satchels, vintage boots and the smell of denim fills the air.
I was greeted at the door by Lalai the lab, and shortly afterwards, Chad, also wearing their signature jeans, helped me find the perfect pair for me. I don’t think I had been excited about a pair of jeans since my high-school Brazilian designer phase. The online experience, the store experience and well as the product were perfectly aligned. These guys don’t just understand jeans and fashion, they understand branding. Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and other celebrities are fans of the brand.
Years ago a salesman in NYC at a trendy boutique tried to get me to wear cuffs on my jeans, by hemming it longer and turning the fabric up exposing its flip side. I was not ready then. I am today. I’m starting slowly with a 2 inch cuff above my shoe break. Chad had his way higher–not even touching his shoes. I’m not quite there yet, but I really like the look. I’m wearing boots with my jeans today and the cuffs just bring a very interesting visual break. This look has been very popular in NYC, London and Paris for a couple of years now. It’s about to hit mainstream soon.
How do you feel about stiff, dark jeans? Are you ready to wear a cuff?
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