It’s easy to become enchanted with a city like Nashville. The intersection between fashion, art, music, and cuisine is one of heritage and heart, and the city’s storytellers make getting to know each of these facets all the more meaningful of an experience. Over the past few years, the Music City seems to have taken on this creative and collaborative role in a way that’s garnering major attention, and thanks to a recent trip down South, we have a hefty firsthand list of all the reasons you should be paying attention to Nashville right now. Scroll down to find out what they are!
Set inside a magnificent Art Deco building that served as Nashville’s primary post office from the 1930s to 1980s, The Frist plays host to new exhibitions every six to eight weeks. The art center has no permanent collection, angling it as a hub for discovery on a consistent basis. (Fun fact: Grace Coddington spoke here during her book tour in 2012). Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945 is currently showing and chronicles heavy hitters in Italian fashion from post–World War II to present day. The exhibition, which first showed in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, highlights the Italian history of craftsmanship and tailoring, and showcases works from key brands like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Emilio Pucci, and Missoni. It’s a colourful, elegant curation from start to finish, and truly a sight to see before it heads out of The Frist’s doors on September 7.
Housed inside a high-ceilinged studio in the Berry Hill neighbourhood of Nashville are three female-run brands that regularly collaborate. First up is Shutter and Shuttles. Led by weaver Allison Volek Shelton, the company not only produces its namesake collection of scarves and separates but also distributes fabrics to other businesses, including its studio mate, Jamie + the Jones.
Ona Rex is the brainchild of designer Ashley Balding and offers hand-knit garments as well as exotic glass-blown accessories.
Started by friends Jamie Frazier and Hannah Jones, Jamie + the Jones is the third member of the collaborative brand trio in the Berry Hill studio. Their pieces feature exquisite hand-dyeing and marbling techniques.
Margaret Ellis jewellery is another brand whose artisans’ dedication to their craft is characteristic of the Nashville community. We peered inside its studio to see the innards of working with metals, and though the process was slightly stupefying, it proved to be equally as inspiring.
We quickly detected a cohesive aesthetic that’s shared by Nashville’s creators and collaborators. Though each shop, studio, restaurant, and so forth owns its personal story and message, the quality at which they all present themselves is at an elevated standard. Something you’d find thumbing through the pages of Kinfolk, perhaps. Wilder is a design shop and art space that you could spend hours tinkering around in. The owners, Ivy and Josh, recently relocated to Nashville from New York, and the two have already established Wilder as a place for burgeoning talent. They recently collaborated with artist William Eggleston’s daughter, Andra, to launch a textile line, and are presently hosting a pop-up by Elise Joseph of Pennyweight in the corner of the store (pictured above).
In the same vein of well-curated spaces, Imogene + Willie is another that tops the list. The brand—well known for its denim and even more well known for its denim makers’ story (more on that here)—has a shop in Nashville whose aura feels like a very nice-smelling, well-read rock star with a penchant for interior design.
Then there’s Peter Nappi, a luxury leather mainstay in the Nashville fashion community that’s run out of a former industrial boiler room on the river. Owning a pair of its shoes is a like a badge of honour among the locals, it seems, and knowing it comes from such a striking showroom, we can see why it carries this clout.
Observing how Nashville’s history plays out in a modern landscape furthermore alludes to the interplay between different creative plains in the city. Iconic locations like The Hermitage Hotel, which opened in 1910, is interwoven with other aspects of the creative community through food, music, film, and politics. And while the discussion of Nashville’s music scene is better left tackled on its own, when it comes to how fashion comes into play, we suggest you mosey down to the Country Music Hall of Fame. There you can ogle designs by legendaries like Manuel Cuevas and Nudie Cohn. And yes, Gram Parson’s infamous marijuana leaf suit is there.
Nashville’s presence in the global fashion industry is on the rise thanks to the aforementioned successes, and of course with the help of icons like Taylor Swift, Lily Aldridge, and Karen Elson, who call the city home. However, a new initiative is further paving this path. The Nashville Fashion Alliance, which evolved from a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $100,000, is composed of a team of industry leaders who are working to build and foster Nashville’s talents through advocacy, economic development, resources, and education. A CFDA of the South, if you will.
Scroll down to shop Nashville-based brands we love!