On Tuesday night, inside her boutique in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Emily Adams Bode sat on a couch surrounded by quilts of all patterns and colors. Although patchwork has become synonymous with her menswear brand, Bode, the blankets served another purpose that evening: quilts are the center of Bode’s new collaboration with Microsoft, a digital archive called the Bode Vault. The library contains vintage fabric patterns that Bode has been collecting almost her whole life, detailing the history associated with each one. Along with her 2019 win of the CFDA Emerging Designer of the Year Award, the Microsoft project is proof that Bode and her namesake indie label are on the rise. In the midst of that rapid ascent, the designer took a moment to reflect on her burgeoning business, her personal style, and what she’ll be wearing to her upcoming wedding.
Your label has been getting a lot of attention lately. Was there a moment you realized, Things are really happening for me?
I think if I could pinpoint, winning the CFDA Emerging Designer of the Year Award this past year was a big one. Because in school, to us, that was the equivalent of the Academy, right? I remember sitting at the dinner, and someone said to me, ‘I think you’re gonna win.’ And I was like, I can’t win, because I can’t win against all these people—the people who were in my category, who I have looked up to. That was a moment. It was pretty wild.
Why was it important for you to establish this digital archive?
That was something I had been interested in doing for a very long time. I have my own personal archive, apart from Bode, and I do have my personal collection of quilts and clothing, and all of these things I’ve always wanted to archive. I’m such a collector in that way. My mother and her sisters always wore vintage, and they saved everything for me.
How would you describe your style in three words?
I would say it’s quite familial. I know that’s a weird way to describe your style, but I wear so many of my mom’s clothes, and two of my favorite sweaters were my grandmother’s. I feel like my style is boyish. I wear boxy menswear a lot of times. I would also say historic. Most of my closet’s vintage, and always has been.
What’s your daily uniform?
I try to wear Bode every day. That’s really natural for me, because I’ll find a textile I love and I’ll make something out of it, so I’ll want to wear it. But I have to say, I wear these black wool trousers from the turn of the century from France almost every day. I wear a lot of button-downs. Not the most exciting, but I buy a lot of my shirting from my friends. They have a vintage store in Tucson, Arizona, called Desert Vintage. I have a huge rack in my closet just with white shirts. So that’s all from them. And then usually a more fun piece, like a jacket of mine.
What’s your go-to outfit for a day off?
It has to be the same. I don’t really wear clothes off and on.
Who’s your ultimate style icon, and why?
I would say an icon in the industry is Ralph Lauren.
What’s your most prized possession in your closet?
All my clothing from my mother.
What was the last thing you purchased?
I buy things every day, that’s my business. But, oh my gosh, I just bought an entire bag full of children’s socks from turn of the century, and they’re for sweater inspiration for next season. I bought that yesterday.
What’s the best piece you ever bought at a thrift store?
Differentiating thrift store from vintage store, it has to be something I got in high school that I still have. Because I haven’t gone to a thrift store in a really long time. Actually, though, I got a 1940s souvenir tablecloth at a thrift store in Canada recently while visiting my fiancé’s family. Usually I only buy those through my dealers, or markets. I would never think to find that at a thrift store.
Is the thrifting in Canada better than it is here in the U.S.?
No, I just don’t do it here, really. I do more antique markets, less thrift stores, in the U.S.
What is your top tip for people who are going vintage shopping for the first time?
Do your research. Also, if it’s clothing, I always say if you wouldn’t walk out wearing it, don’t buy it. That goes for all clothing. Unless you’re buying it for inspiration. But if you’re buying it to wear…
What’s on your wish list?
Right now, I’m planning a wedding, so on my wish list is a very specific two-piece set from Hermès.
What’s your style pet peeve?
When people’s socks don’t match. It really bothers me. It’s always bothered me, since I was a kid.
What’s your preferred footwear?