Interview: Emily Bode / AnOther Man

Interview: Emily Bode / AnOther Man

It’s been said that every stitch tells a story, but it’s rare that your new shirt comes with a tag explaining its provenance. The fabrics repurposed to make New York label Bode’s impeccably cut wardrobe staples could be anything from a rare kimono silk, to a French 19th century gingham, to a New England quilt. “For me it’s not so much about being historical or contemporary as being timeless,” says designer Emily Bode. “The clothes themselves are comfortable, they’re founded on utilitarian workwear shapes. The age of my client varies massively. I like to think that people would have responded to my clothes in the same way if I had made them 20 years ago.”

Only three collections in, Bode has already defined a fully-realised vision for her namesake label, using traditional craft fabrics within a distinctly modern silhouette. The seed of each collection comes from her carefully managed archive of antique textiles, of which Bode has an encyclopaedic knowledge – some of them are so rare that even in the label’s infancy, many of the pieces are already collectable. On the other hand, Bode is keen to emphasise that the value lies as much in the fabrication as the eye-catching prints. “A lot of the time people come to my studio looking for the loud pieces, but then when they actually go to buy something, they just want my well-made basic shirts. The fabric is probably what draws someone in, but the fit is what solidifies the purchase.”

Bode’s own impetus to collect is longstanding. “I started accumulating stuff when I was a little kid,” she says. “I’ve always had my favourite fabrics that I don’t cut, or vintage textiles I keep for inspiration or decoration in my room.” When did this obsession develop into a full-time professional endeavour? “I showed my first collection about 18 months ago, but I didn’t start stockpiling fabrics until about a year ago. We have a room on the Lower East Side, a basement that we keep all of the textiles in. The room will go from being, like, you can’t even walk in it, to then feeling really empty. It ebbs and flows.”

The joy for Bode comes from the eureka moments of discovering these fabrics in the unlikeliest of places. Currently in Paris to meet buyers at fashion week, she has spent every free moment trawling the city’s flea markets. At the latest count, she has 300 pounds of fabric to take back to New York and add to the archive. “I came across a stall where this woman was using this fabric to cover up her bins, it was a really wide gingham and I started visualising this men’s summer shirt right away. It turned out it was from the 1830s, produced in Normandy, and she told me it was super expensive – she was literally using it to cover her garbage!”

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