Imogene + Willie basically has a cult following at this point. Almost every Nashville travel guide lists the store as a go-to spot to visit. Stars travel from LA to get their measurements taken and saved for future denim orders. Locals wander in to pick up jeans that are being repaired after years of hard wear…
When was the last time you loved a pair of jeans so much that you got them repaired instead of simply replacing them? In a time where fast-fashion is the standard, that is an unusual practice but one that I have come to really appreciate. Read on to hear about how my love affair with imogene + willie got started and why I am still wearing the same pair of jeans 7 years later.
Back in 2009 I was leaving my freshman year of college at the University of Kansas and preparing to transfer to Philadelphia University. I was staying with my mom that summer in Franklin, TN and she had a list of things she was excited to show me. At the top of the list was this cool new spot called imogene + willie where you could buy jeans and have them tailored right in the store, which just so happened to be an old gas station.
I was skeptical because she told me the price up front. All the jeans are somewhere around $200. As a college student who had spent the last year in a town where primary shopping was done at target, that just seemed like way too much money. The other thing adding to my skepticism was my incredible ability to find reasons why a pair of pants (especially jeans) does not look good on me. I’ve mentioned in past posts that I am pretty self-conscious of my legs, and at that point in time I was doubting everything about myself because I had failed so miserably at picking a university I liked. No joke, at that point in my life I felt like I did not know myself at all and no decision was simple – I struggled making the most minor decisions. What I’m saying is – my expectations were not high walking into the shop.
We drove up to a tiny gas station with a really awesome sign and not much else around it and I was sold on the aesthetic before we had parked the car. I tried on a couple pair of jeans, at the time there was a very limited number of styles. I went with a bootcut pair of darker denim. Admitedly, I think I wore that pair of pants a total of 3 times. I don’t care for boot cut jeans, I am far too loyal to a good straight pair or skinnies. I had given in and bought the super fancy pants, but that wasn’t what sold me on the brand at all, I was totally disenchanted after realizing that the amazing quality wasn’t enough to make me like the fit.
Two years later, I was back in Nashville after studying abroad and I had a much better handle on my sense of style. My mom and I were back on the street where imogene + willie lives enjoying the amazing little shopping and dining district that it had become. We walked past the tiny little gas station and decided to venture back in. There I found a pair of mid-rise, black skinnies that I was a big fan of. I was one broke college student though, and I didn’t buy them that day.
The ‘Ah hah!’ Moment
Over the next two years I bought who-knows-how-many pair of cheap jeans from h&m and forever 21, wearing them 5 or 6 times before they would lose their elasticity and I would need another pair. I was sick of hunting for jeans. It is something that I really don’t like doing, I have a hard time finding jeans that fit me in a way that I like. I finally came to the conclusion that what I really wanted was one pair of really great skinny black jeans that I could wear every day. That would mold to my body with each step, and look better as they got older. Cue the ‘ah-ha!’ moment that led me back to the jeans I had tried on years before, that would basically become the only pants I wore for the next 3 years.
True Love is Born
So that’s how I was converted to someone who is willing to drop some cash on a pair of good jeans. Now, I have to be clear, I do not equate cost with quality. I bought another pair of rather expensive jeans last summer, hoping that they could be the blue version of my favorite black pair, only to have them wear straight through in 6 months. SIX. MONTHS. Not cool. It’s one thing when the jeans have been worn so much that there is no way they could not rip, but that was not the case here. Back to my old-faithful’s.
Then came the very sad day when my faithful black skinnies ripped in the butt. I was on the verge of turning them into cut-offs when I happened to be in Nashville and stopped through to see if there was a pair in the store that could take their place. I mentioned the rip to the woman who was helping me and she got really excited. She told me that’s when they are the best and that the store would patch them for me for $25 (+ look at the cute package they sent them back in :).)
I’ve always held back on having jeans patched because the ones I have seen came back looking like Ragedy Anne, which is fine in certain situations… but not really what I was looking for. She could definitely see my hesitation and went back to grab a couple pair that had just been fixed in the store. They. Were. Awesome.
Because you are having real denim patched, it comes out looking like a super cool pair of vintage jeans that you happened upon in your cool rock-star Aunt’s attic or something. I feel like I have been missing out on these super cool aged jeans all my life. I cannot wait until I get my new-old jeans in the mail! If I was disciplined, two pair of jeans would be all I need forever…black and blue. Let’s just say I’m not very disciplined 😀