When it comes to architecture, Nashville retailers are passionate about creative re-use. In the 12 South neighborhood, the denim company Imogene + Willie and multibrand designer boutique H. Audrey (owned by Holly Williams, granddaughter of the legendary Hank Sr.) both operate stores out of buildings that were once vintage gas stations. Leatherworker Emil Erwin and cap-and-tie guy Otis James run combination studio/retail spaces inside Marathon Village, a former Victorian-era car factory.
And then there’s Peter Nappi, the Italian boot company that makes its home in the former Neuhoff Meat Packing Plant, a circa 1906 brick factory building located high on the bank of the Cumberland River north of downtown.
Peter Nappi is the brainchild of Phillip and Dana Nappi, a local couple who several years ago were inspired to move to Italy to learn the trade of Phillip’s immigrant grandfather, the brand’s namesake. The couple opened in Neuhoff in 2011, and the company quickly became not only a local source for high-quality Italian-made boots and accessories, but a social hub as well. The large, open store is an ideal location for parties—its holiday get-together last Friday (pictured, top) was packed with the city’s chicest movers and shakers. The permanent stage (below), set with a grand piano and a backdrop featuring a collage of vintage oil portraits, has hosted musical guests ranging from The Fray to Nikki Lane to what Phillip calls the “house band”: a small group of accomplished musicians whose day jobs are playing with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Robert Plant, and Willie Nelson.
But the fabulous surroundings shouldn’t distract from Peter Nappi’s main event: the boots. They sell a well-edited selection of styles in a variety of leathers for both women and men; everything is designed in Nashville and made in small artisan factories in Italy. (I just got a pair from the new women’s collection, the Carina, an ankle-height style with just over a three-inch heel (below). My next purchase will be the Lucano motorcycle boots, for sure.) So far, Peter Nappi has only dealt in accessories, though that may change since Phillip hired my former Billy Reid colleague Savannah Yarborough, an Alabama-born graduate of Central Saint Martins, to head up the in-house design team.
For more information, visit http://www.peternappi.com/.
Photos: Courtesy of Libby Callaway