In recent years, Nashville has shed its denim-and-diamonds reputation, and become a destination for savvy travelers. Music City’s new status is due, in part, to its storied musical heritage and rising foodie culture, but the city’s booming creative scene is also changing the town. The Tennessee metropolis has a fashion community that’s quickly gaining momentum, even hosting its own fashion week since 2011. "This is a very exciting time for Nashville and a wonderful time to be a small business owner," says Ashley Sheehan of Old Made Good, a boutique shop that sells vintage goods, handmade jewelry and local art. "There’s an excitement here for something new. It’s a wonderful time to create and deliver."
Nashville has always been a creative hub, but—thanks partly to a lower cost of living than N.Y.C. or L.A.—more creative types are now calling the city their home. That means artistic folks are craving artistic fashions, and creating a style that’s uniquely Nashville. "If I could create a uniform to represent the look of Nashville," says Sheehan, "it would be something along the lines of a vintage country music tee (fitted with the neck cut out), vintage Levis cutoffs, amazing distressed boots, some large statement necklaces with a tribal influence, and perhaps a kimono style cropped jacket. It’s a relaxed yet put together approach."
Fashion talent is everywhere in Music City. Annie Williams hand-cuts her minimalist leather clutches, totes, and accessories. Peter Nappi and Emil Erwin make timeless leather goods. And Han Starnes creates chunky knits under the Josi Faye label.
For edgier gear, browse Local Honey or the works of Poni Silver, drummer for The Ettes. Her ’70s-rock-inspired line, Black by Maria Silver, features tough-girl charm. Top off any outfit with a signature "lady tie" by Otis James.
It’s clear that country music is no longer the only thing influencing Nashville’s fashion scene. "You can’t put ‘the look’ of Nashville in a tidy box," says Carrie Eddmenson of imogene + willie, a boutique that, in addition to its beloved jeans line, offers understated tops and accessories. "Nashville style is less about southern bearded men, hipsters or cowboys, and more about individuality."