Emily Adams Bode hadn’t planned to revolutionize menswear. Not at first.
When looking for work after college, one interviewer informed her she’d be the only woman in the menswear design room, and he wasn’t quite sure it would work. “It’s crazy to think—it wasn’t that long ago,” she says, laughing. “He was just being honest. But that conversation couldn’t happen today.”
There are women—like Donatella Versace, Stella McCartney, or Givenchy’s former creative director Clare Waight Keller—who gain acclaim for their men’s collections. Those rare outliers tend to be womenswear designers who slide into menswear. Rarer still are the women who design for men—and men only.
Of those, Bode (that’s BOH-dee) is arguably leading the pack. She won U.S. fashion’s prestigious CFDA emerging artist award in 2019, and now her cult brand is breaking out and scaling up in a way that has surprised, and impressed, many in the industry.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Bode, 31, spent childhood summers in her parents’ native New England. In a tech-obsessed era, she loved sewing, quilting, and antiquing. She attended The New School, graduating with a dual degree in menswear design from Parsons and philosophy from Eugene Lang College.
After interning at Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren, she launched her own brand, Bode, in 2016. It started small, with crafty, embroidered, limited-edition garments made on upcycled and recycled fabrics, from patchwork quilts to deadstock denim, scored at vintage shops from Atlanta to Cape Cod to Paris. Think old-timey workwear silhouettes, but with an of-the-moment gender-casual vibe.
Bode today offers a vibrant mix of bowling shirts and beaded rugby shorts (around $425), horse-blanket cardigans (yes, made from blankets, $1,275) and corduroy jackets inspired by Boy Scout “jac-shirts,” complete with vintage patches ($2,100). It’s a look sought-after by trendsetting celebs (Harry Styles, Jay-Z) and high-end retailers (Bergdorf Goodman, Ssense.com). Bode recently took time out with RESIDE® to talk about two passions—vintage clothing and sustainability.