We didn’t have to spend too much time in Nashville to notice the tight-knit community of artisans and creatives. While in town, we spent time with a handful of Nashville characters in their local businesses—Barista Parlor, Third Man Records, Sideshow Sign Co., Parlour and Juke, and Imogene + Willie—to get to know the people behind the burgeoning Nashville brands.

After briefly chatting with Emil at Barista Parlor the other day, we were excited to see his half of the space he shares with Otis James. Plus, we had already seen his bags and belts at Imogene + Willie, aprons on the baristas at the coffee shop and one hanging on the back wall of the Sideshow Sign Co. workspace. Clearly, Nashville residents are big fans of the Emil Erwin line. 

We really love that the beautiful pieces that Emil’s makes are comprised of a few simple elements: leather, rivets, thread, and perhaps a few other pieces of hardware. These elements come together to be wonderfully crafted work, with close attention to detail and a great amount of time dedicated to each.

Emil told us that he’s always been drawn to leather, it’s durability and functionality. He had previously worked in upholstery, and began making bags in college. The leather that he uses today is sourced from Chicago’s Horween Leather Company, the last standing domestic tannery. The leather hangs on hooks, which once belonged to his uncle, along the side wall of his workspace.

While there, we even tried our hand at stitching a small leather wallet. Lesson learned: it’s not as easy as it looks.

We really loved getting a first hand look at Emil’s workspace, and getting to meet the man behind the leather bags we’d be eying at Imogene + Willie. Plus, now he’ll be crafting them while wearing a pair of the Beckett frames!

Spotted on our way out: another sign from Sideshow Sign Co.

The bus has left Nashville, but if you’re in town, you can check out our frames in our showroom at Imogene + Willie!

Photos by Collin Hughes