patagonia

이모진(IMOGENE)과 윌리(WILLIE)는 단순히 청바지를 만드는 것만 생각하지 않습니다. 자신들이 만드는 청바지로 고객들의 삶에 ‘좋은 변화’를 기대하며 사업을 운영합니다. 자부심과 열정을 가지고 메이드 인 어메리카(Made in America)를 실현하는 사람들, 우리는 그들은 어메리칸 빌더스(American Builders)라 칭합니다.

IMOGENE & WILLIE

There’s a movement afoot in the United States of entrepreneurial craftspeople applying their skills to heritage-type brands that are much more than a logo stitched onto an article of clothing. Rebelling against a disposable culture with items that are high quality and lovingly designed, these small brands harken back to a time when a company’s reputation was staked much more on the quality of their product, not the ubiquity of their marketing campaign or fame of their celebrity endorsers. Nashville, Tennessee-based denim company Imogene + Willie are at the forefront of this, a family business that draws on generations of experience in the denim world and a passion for not just making great jeans, but for the lives their customers lead.

Co-owner and founder Matt Eddmenson sat down to discuss how he and wife Carrie started the brand in 2009, why they did it and where they’re headed next.

So what prompted you to start Imogene + Willie, and why denim? It seems like a crowded market to get into!

My wife Carrie and I got into it through washing blue jeans in Kentucky for the likes of Paper Denim & Cloth, Levi's and all the other major denim brands. We had a factory in Mexico, we had a joint partnership with a factory in India, we had a joint partnership with a factory in the Dominican Republic and so on. But those major brands, in order to get the type of margins that they needed in big corporate America…we found ourselves coming to the realization that no one was going to continue to ship their jeans to be washed at our wonderful facility in Henderson, Kentucky. So in 2008, pretty much when the economy completely tanked, we shut down a family business of 26 years. Denim really has been in my wife’s family since 1986. I think it was in 2004 when I came aboard and started working as a developer for these brands.

So after we shut down the business, really it was like, “Well, I’m not gonna go back to school, and I really don’t want to go work for a major corporation." Although there were times when that started to look really appealing. So we started Imogene + Willie. This is the thing that we know how to do best. We’d helped other denim brands launch over and over again, so we knew the process, and I think Carrie and I are both entrepreneurs at heart, and so we just wanted to do it ourselves. I don’t think we saw it as risking much, when we kind of had lost everything already.

You guys have grown a ton since you started, but it still feels like such a small, intimate brand. How do you manage that?

I think the perception that Imogene + Willie is still this very small, intimate brand is because Carrie and I are so intimately involved. Carrie basically sees every customer as a family member, and takes great pride in knowing that she can still communicate on that level as opposed to being some untouchable CEO.

Pretty much you make products that come out of what your customer is requesting, what your customer wants. You really are doing this for them, and it’s a way for you to make a living. I think the perception is that yes, we’ve grown, and we’re trying to make decisions, and systems are in place now, and it’s a little bit more “follow the rule book” than it used to be when you could just fly by the seat of your pants. But with everything you have to have structure.

Denim is at the heart of the American experience. What aspects of our culture define or inform your designs?

What feels good. What looks good. What I think, overall, has been our aesthetic. Which has obviously been molded by people who come before us, whether they be a movie star like Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, Goldie Hawn, any of those iconic '70s sort of… You know that image. When I hear that question I get all these images popping into my mind, but I think at the end of the day we have adopted these styles for our own, and we’ve realized, “Oh, now I totally know why they wore denim from head to toe ? it’s so easy, so comfortable!”

I think to really answer that question comes down to, “This is what we like, this is what we wear.” You can say you love a suit, but if you have to wear one to work every day, I guarantee you on Saturday you aren’t putting on a suit. Whereas denim is different; you put it on every day. Walk into any room anywhere in the world, and I promise you 80% of the people are gonna have on blue jeans. So what does that say? What does it say about who we are and what we are? This is a fabric that's been around for close to two hundred years, was popularized in 1873 by Levi Strauss, and we haven’t taken it off since.

So what do you think of the modernized styles, like stretch denim?

Let me clarify ? stretch is not a bad thing. We make stretch denim, we just don’t make a big deal of it. The problem that we always had with stretch, which kind of got roped into, “Oh, Imogene + Willie are so authentic, they only do things that were done by the shuttle looms from the '40s and '50s.” I mean, we aspire to that sense of quality. But I will say that stretch, you know, everything, goes in a circle. For the last five years every guy was wearing rigid selvedge jeans broken in from the starchy fabric that they wore for two weeks of unadulterated pain and suffering and sweat. Now that’s come back around, and guys just want comfort.

Guys are washing their jeans more to make them softer, and we’re starting to see this idea that it’s okay to be comfortable. But it’s also pushed fabric mills to develop fabrics that appear to have that very authentic, very rigid look that also stretches. It’s the same for women. Women have been wearing that very soft and tight and stretchy pant, and now every girl I know is wearing 100% cotton, so the roles are completely reversed.

If you ever want to try to predict the future, it’s just the opposite of what’s happening now in five years.

So what’s the long-term goal of Imogene + Willie? Are you coming for Levi’s title?

I have a brother-in-law who’s head of global development for Levi's; I’m not exactly sure Imogene + Willie is aspiring to be them. Obviously we want to be able to pay our bills and we want to employ more people and we want to assemble a great team around us, and in order to do that we have to sell blue jeans. And Carrie always says, sometimes we forget to sell blue jeans. We’re so involved in our customers' lives and we name washes and fits after people who wear our jeans to honor where that’s coming from and really to pull inspiration from them. Imogene + Willie was named after Carrie’s grandparents, and we always saw it as a family business. But we’d love to see more and more people actually identify with the brand.

J.P. Harris plays country music. Not “Americana”, not “folk” and not the type of jock rock bubble gum country you hear on the pop country station.

J.P. HARRIS

In a culture that claims, or wants, to be obsessed with authenticity even as we log countless hours soaking up “reality” television, folks like J.P. Harris are living an existence that is 95% heart and the rest a heady dose of sweat, backbone and can-do attitude.

Harris is the kind of brash, kind, hardworking and jovial man Americans used to be stereotyped as abroad. An affable, scrappy outlaw in the very best sense of the word, who cheerily brews cauldrons of gumbo for fans before shows and stays long after the last song, sharing drinks and stories with the folks who came to see him. Then it’s off to the next stop, or home and up at the crack of dawn to bang nails with his construction business.

After being voted Best Country Album in the country music mecca of Nashville, touring relentlessly with bands like the Old Crow Medicine Show, appearing in Rolling Stone and having songs in movies starring people like Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron, you'd think Harris would be living the dream in a rhinestone jumpsuit and swanky Airstream. But that’s just not who he is, and after spending five minutes with the gravelly voiced, tattoo-covered beard farmer, it’s apparent that J.P Harris can’t be anything but who J.P Harris is.

And we’re all the better for it.

As he’ll be quick to tell you, Harris plays country music. Not “Americana”, not “folk” and not the type of jock rock bubble gum country you hear on the pop country station. When he gets on stage ? be it a club, ghost town, or bed of a truck ? and leans into the mic, guitar hung low, cocky smile peeking through the signature whiskers, and unleashes his cigarette-raked, bourbon-smooth baritone, it's an immediate education for the uninitiated as to just what country music is supposed to be. Harris’ songs are an escape; tall tales, love stories, drunken disasters, hard highway hours in the middle of nowhere. Real talk about real things, set to real music, for real people.

So how did you wind up playing country music like you do? What’s your story, man?

Well, I was born in Alabama to a very southern family in 1983. We left seeking work when I was young, and lived in the high desert in California and then on to Nevada. I left home when I was 14, spent a lot of time on the highway, freight trains, did a lot of riding in truck beds... Eventually I ended up in the northeast, where I picked up a whole mess of different trades and lived way the hell out in the country for about a dozen years. I got the traveling itch pretty bad again in my mid-twenties, started writing country songs, and the rest is history.

What is it about the style you play that draws you more than others? Why country music?

I spent over a decade just working my ass off as a carpenter, logger, machine operator...I never had power or running water in my more settled days, and hence was drawn towards acoustic and traditional music. Something about it all made sense spending so much time out on log landings, job sites and the like; I came out of a punk rock scene and the DIY aspect of it drove me to learn all these skills and leave the city, and once I actually became a part of the working rural landscape I couldn't imagine playing anything other than country music. It's timeless and easy to identify with, a real common ground kind of music.

What do you think of all the pop country stuff?

I wouldn't say I'm a fan. I'm mostly tired of having to explain that the music I play sounds nothing like what they call country on the radio. People should play and listen to whatever they like, but the commercial stuff these days, in my opinion, has lost any depth, any real resemblance to what the word "country" meant for decades. It's just bubblegum with a cowboy hat, hillbilly pop.

You could make a living just playing music - why continue to do construction?

Well, it's tough to subsist on music alone, what with the old sound not being as popular these days, but moreover I just love working hard. The labor I've done for over half my life is what makes me who I am; I wouldn't interpret life and the world around me the way I do if I spent my days in a writing studio or on the couch with a guitar. The trades I've learned over the last sixteen years are my identity more than music is in some ways, though the two kinda need each other to survive.

What keeps you going out on the road week after week?

Cigarettes, coffee and a stubborn-as-a-mule will to succeed. If I quit playing, quit touring, I don't think I'd live out the rest of my days as a happy man. There's a thrill in watching the state lines fly by, in finding a new little town or pulling into a familiar city that just excites the hell out of me.

What's the craziest thing you’ve ever seen while out and about in the USA?

I've seen a lot of flipped-over trucks, a lot of miles of snow-covered road and a LOT of drunk people. Until I see Burt Reynolds riding a polar bear down I-40 somewhere in Arizona, it'll be hard to blow my mind.

There is something downright American about the type of roots country that you play, why is that? What ingredients make a roots country song different from some pop country tune?

Country is the only truly American music besides the blues, the only one we can lay sole claim to. For five or more decades it was the most popular music here, made by real people who lived the songs they sang. It's the soundtrack to everything that shaped the United States, in the last half of the 20th century if not longer.

What up-and-coming bands are you into?

Well, just keeping in my own genre I'm a fan of Sturgill Simpson, Whitey Morgan and Margo Price. Outside of strict country the list is pretty long!

How do you write your songs? Do they just come to you, or is it a long process?

I'm kind of a "stream of consciousness" songwriter. Every now and again I'll have one that I put down and revisit a few times before it's done, but mostly they come out in one or two sittings.

What is there as a musician that you haven’t done, but want to?

Play the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. I wouldn't mind opening a show for The Hag and/or Dwight Yoakam either.

Why Nashville?

Because Music City is about the easiest place to be a musician I've found. No matter what my life brings, I'll always have a guitar and a clean pair of pants stashed somewhere in Nashville.

  • 이모진(IMOGENE)과 윌리(WILLIE)는 단순히 청바지를 만드는 것만 생각하지 않습니다. 자신들이 만드는 청바지로 고객들의 삶에 ‘좋은 변화’를 기대하며 사업을 운영합니다. 자부심과 열정을 가지고 메이드 인 어메리카(Made in America)를 실현하는 사람들, 우리는 그들은 어메리칸 빌더스(American Builders)라 칭합니다.
우리는 메이드 인 어메리카(Made in America)를 실현하는 어메리칸 빌더스(American Builders)의 모습을 담고자 사진작가 제임스(James)와 파트너쉽을 맺었습니다. 그는 미국 전역을 다니며 예술가, 혁신가, 장인을 만나고 그들의 DIY (Do It Yourself) 정신을 카메라에 담았습니다.

“아메리칸 빌트(Amecian Built)”란?

“아메리칸 빌트(American Built)”는 미국의 최신 기술로 고품질의 신발을 제조한다는 의미를 가집니다. 킨(KEEN)의 아메리칸 빌트(American Built)라인은 세계 각지로부터 받은 최상의 자재를 사용하여 미국 포트랜드(Portland)에서 만들어진 제품을 말합니다.


“세계 각지의 최상급 재료를 사용한다”는 의미

킨(KEEN)은 라이프스타일 기능성 신발의 세계적인 제조회사이자 유통회사로서, 현재 유럽, 아시아, 북미에서 생산하고 있습니다. 킨 제품들은 세계 각지에서 조달된 최고의 재료들로 만들어집니다.

포트랜드(Portland) 공장 생산 제품

포트랜드(Portland) 공장은 20개가 넘는 스타일을 생산하고 있으며, 현지 생산비중은 계속해서 증가할 것입니다.

듀랜드(Durand)

다양한 기능성

  • 방수처리의 프리미엄 누벅 가죽 & 통기성 메시 갑피
  • 킨드라이(KEEN.Dry) 방수 및 통기성 기능
  • 장시간 걸음에도 편안한 중창(Midsole
  • 발목까지 감싸주는 안정감 있는 디자인
  • 이중구조의 합성고무 밑창(Outsole)

브래독 미드 WP(Braddock Mid WP)

프리미엄 성능

  • 방수기능의 프리미엄 풀그레인(Full-grain) 가죽 갑피
  • 킨드라이(KEEN.Dry)방수 및 통기성 기능
  • 장시간 걸음에도편안한 중창(Midsole)
  • 발목까지 감싸주는 안정감 있는 디자인