I knew Nashville would be my kind of town. We’d only been here a half hour when I spotted some guy (not a farmer) walking down the street in overalls. And in less than 15 hours (10 of which were spent sleeping), my obsession with the no-frills, down-home countrified aesthetic I’ve always romanticized from afar has been intensified by two particular stops: Imogene + Willie and Hatch Show Print.
They’re incredibly different. One sells denim, the other posters. But at both places, they still make things–and their honest, hard-working, old-school process is on display right in the shop. And for anyone who’s interested in the design and craft behind the eventual product, it’s like being a sugar-deprived kid in a candy factory. And the interiors! The buzzing sewing machines and colorful thread spools at Imogene + Willie and old wood blocks stacked from floor to ceiling at Hatch Show–it all becomes part of the story. Some of the people who run the sewing machines are also Imogene + Willie denim models, and the wood blocks sitting on shelves made from even older wood blocks that were discarded more than 100 years ago are the same blocks responsible for the greatest concert posters of all time. Hatch Show Print has been making posters for 132 years for musicians like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Luna, The White Stripes and every other band that lives in or comes through the Music City these days.
I bought a poster for my kitchen at Hatch (“a dash equals 1/4 teaspoon”) and I couldn’t resist a custom pair of jeans at Imogene + Willie (“the Imogene stretch”). I’ve admired photos all over the internet, but in person, this place exceeded my already pre-hyped expectations. Our kids explored every little nook and cranny, and the staff–who were all disarmingly friendly–made instant buddies with them, which made it so much easier to walk around the store, try on jeans and get fitted. (I was horrified, but they laughed and hustled to try to take a photo when my two-year-old picked up an errant power tool). And in the time we walked down the street for a hand-crushed raspberry and lime popsicle at Las Paletes, my jeans had been hemmed, wrapped in brown butcher paper and tied up with a scrap denim ribbon.
For more photos from the road, go to the Lincoln-Designtripper site!