Talking Shop: Imogene + Willie’s New Portland Outpost
As you may have heard, Imogene + Willie just opened their second-ever shop—this one in Portland, Oregon. We caught up with cofounder and creative director Matt Eddmenson (pictured, with cofounder Carrie Eddmenson) to walk us through it.
M: Why Portland? Well, we met [Shopbop cofounder] Bob Lamey about a year ago. He’s been not only a mentor but also a great friend. [He and his team] came to Nashville and were like, “Wow, this is really similar to Portland, have you guys ever been to Portland, let’s go to Portland.” And we went one day and it didn’t take more than 10 minutes after being there to realize, wow, this is the place.
M: When the space became available in Portland, next to the wonderful Tanner Goods, we really wanted to do something different. So the first thing we did [was] build this hut [the dressing room] and created the space around that. To me, Portland has a very Japanese vibe, so we used a Japanese technique of preserving wood—all the pine on the dressing room is actually blowtorched and sealed, then the inside is lined with cedar.
M: We have some things uniquely for the Portland shop—like an Ebbets Field hat with a big “P,” versus an “N” on it in Nashville.
M: I just got my first new pair of jeans in three years last week. Making things in America is not always the easiest or the least expensive way to do it. So we do understand that our jeans come with a hefty price tag. But with that being said, we’ve never been the brand that you need to own 42 pairs of, we’ve always been very adamant that one pair can get you through several years. For me it’s the Willie: a straight-leg selvage jean, somewhat of a mid-rise. For guys like me who want to be able to put their jeans over the top of their engineer boots or cowboy boots in Nashville, that’s this.
M: I like Red Wing, the Iron Ranger, because it just fits. These [have been in] the Red Wing catalog for over 100 years and I love that history. I feel like that is how we would love Imogene + Willie to turn out to be, this 125-year-old company that stayed with its values and morals from the beginning.
M: The one shirt that sort of defines Imogene + Willie is the Leo western shirt, named after my grandfather. We’ll always have it—it’s something that a guy can trust, we don’t change the fit every week to accommodate this and that.
M: Nothing moves fast at Imogene + Willie. It took us five years to open our second location. We want to live with Portland for a while, but if I had to just throw a [potential next] city out there, [it’s] Chicago. [It] needs more great independent men’s shops like Independence and Oak Street. We have a lot of online customers from Chicago that remind us weekly that we need to open up a store there, so we’ll see.
Imogene + Willie, 1306 W Burnside St, Portland, OR
- — Caitlin Ganswindt