Emily is headed back to Paris — Emily Bode, that is.
After a brief, pandemic-fueled hiatus, she returned to her domestic business and began the opening of her first store. Los Angeles flagship: The founder and designer of Bode is returning to Paris in January to design the men’swear calendar.
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Bode will be celebrating the seventh anniversary her heritage-inspired brand in the summer. She first crossed the pond in June 2019, and then held her second show there just before the pandemic struck in February 2020.
“We came back to New York after the show and everyone was sick,” she recalled. It wasn’t long after that offices and stores closed and the world essentially shut down.
“Our plan was never to stop showing,” she said. “It just happened naturally.”
While shows were cancelled and international travel curtailed due to this, Bode instead focused her attention on the flagship of 3,200 square feet she opened on Melrose Avenue. Los Angeles February
“We decided to put all our energies into the West Coast market versus having a show,” she said.
It paid off.
Bode stated that the store is doing well as her original location at Hester Street. New York’s Chinatown neighborhood.
“Our growth was really solid last year,” she said. “So now it’s important to grow as we have for the five years prior. So while we focused on our direct-to-consumer last year, next year, we’re going back to Paris.”
She said the European city is “top of mind right now.” And while the company’s largest direct-to-consumer market is in North America, “from a wholesale perspective, our largest volume is in Europe and the U.K.,” with retail customers such as Matchesfashion, Browns and Liberty in London, along with stores in Japan and Korea.
“Everyone frequents Paris for the shows,” she continued. “And while we’ve had great success with virtual appointments, we felt it was important to show again.” She characterized her line as “narrative-based” and, as a result, it benefits from a live presentation.
This helps to streamline the selling process as editors and retailers can view and shop the collection right after the runway show.
Bode indicated that although she might do a New York retail activation during February’s fashion week, there are not plans at this time to replicate the show.
Bode, who was awarded the Best Emerging Menswear Designer award in 2019, and the 2021 Menswear Designer of The Year award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, as well as the 2020 Karl Lagerfeld award for innovation from Woolmark Co. has seen her business grow significantly over the past few years.
The company relocated from a cramped space of 2,000 square feet in Chinatown, to a manufacturing site in Brooklyn that is 10,000 square feet. They have been hiring.
“We have quite a large in-house studio team now,” she said. That includes everyone from specialists in drawing and patternmaking to sewers and cutters who are working with her to “scale our one-of-a-kind business alongside the collection.”
Bode claimed that up to 40% of her business comes directly from unique items she and her team create using vintage quilts and repurposed materials. These items are sold through her website and stores, but she also makes a commercial collection that has a similar look and is available wholesale.
Bode indicated that, although retail is a very profitable channel for the company’s business, there are not immediate plans to expand. This could change.
“We’re constantly talking about it,” she said. “The L.A. store opened up the West Coast market for us in a way we didn’t know existed and completely changed our business.”
She stated that California’s store is four times as big as her Hester Street location, so it can carry the entire collection. “New York is more of a jewel box of a store,” she said, “and the merchandise is ever evolving because we don’t have the same space.”
But the success of the West Coast store proved to the company that any future stores don’t have to fit into a particular mold.
“We’re now confident that all the stores can have a different feel and still be on brand,” she said. “They don’t need to be mirror images of each other.”
Bode once stated that London was on the top of her list for future retail expansion.