The facade of the new Bode store in Los Angeles – off-white plaster, two windows hidden by banal vertical blinds, signage worthy of a municipal building – is discreet to the point of being invisible. This could easily be a small town haberdashery from a bygone era.
Bode, a cult menswear brand run by designer Emily Adams Bode, 32, succeeded by whispering instead of shouting. It appeals to a clientele that is not just looking for a boxy work jacket made from an antique quilt or patchwork trousers, but rather consumers interested in how they were made.
“I hope that with my clothes, people will have an emotional connection,” she said on a hot February afternoon, as employees put the finishing touches on the store’s dark wooden interior. before opening that night. “I want the same when they enter this space.”
Aaron Aujla, who designed the store (and is Ms Bode’s husband), added: “If it’s not related to something personal and meaningful, then what are we even doing?
The Los Angeles store is Ms. Bode’s second and, at 3,200 square feet, four times the size of its original location on Hester Street in New York’s Chinatown. A friend told him of two adjoining vacancies along a stretch of Melrose Avenue among high-end furniture stores, and the spaces have now been combined, walls lined with American walnut cabinets and cabinets and the suspended wooden beams left exposed.
The bespoke furniture is from Mr. Aujla’s furniture and interior design company, Green River Project. In front of an oversized mirror sits a dramatic daybed covered in a turn-of-the-century bedspread from Mrs. Bode’s personal textile collection. A nearby table was topped with three Connecticut bird nests.
“New York was all about establishing a set of visual cues, like, ‘This is what this is about,'” said Mr. Aujla, 36. “So LA was thinking, what else can we -talk to us?”
For inspiration, they drew on classic Southern California bureaucratic architecture from the 1930s through the 1950s, such as Department of Motor Vehicle offices, post offices, and educational institutions. Taxonomy placards, fossils, and model animal skeletons add Wes Anderson-esque theatricality (a plaster cast of a dodo bird skeleton perched above a shirt rack serves as a “cautionary tale on overconsumption,” Mr. Aujla said). Ms Bode said they plan to hold educational programs in the store or community events, such as making masks for Halloween.
As brands like Nike and Gucci enter the metaverse, Ms. Bode has built a career going in the opposite direction. Her love for found textiles and upcycled fabrics comes from a long-standing practice of trading and real estate sales with her family. She channeled a lot of that sensibility into a business that resembles, in some ways, the pre-industrial revolution, when you knew the person who made your clothes, if you didn’t make them yourself.
For that, she won two CFDA awards, for Best Emerging Menswear Designer 2019 and Best Menswear Designer last year, and was named GQ’s Breakthrough Designer of 2019. Celebrities like Harry Styles , Justin Bieber and Leon Bridges are fans, although Ms. Bode and Mr. Aujla exploded when they saw minimalist architect John Pawson wearing Bode.
It’s not uncommon to go to the store in Hester Street and find a one-of-a-kind shirt that Mrs. Bode herself has dropped off. In fact, it’s become something of a midtown Manhattan that boasts of having one. She estimated that about 30-40% of her business is one-of-a-kind; 600 of these styles were available at the Los Angeles store when it opened on Friday.
On Thursday night, she and Mr. Aujla hosted a small gathering to celebrate the store, and in keeping with her low-key demeanor, it was light on the A-list names (OK, Jeff Goldblum passed), and heavy on the friends and other creative types from the LA art, fashion and furniture scenes. A handful of fashion editors flock there, as well as photographer Tyler Mitchell and shoe designer Aurora James.
“My goal as a designer is, yes, to put clothes on people,” Ms. Bode said. “But maybe people will go home and start talking with their family members about the products so that when you’re cleaning a relative’s house, when you would have just thrown something in the trash, you can find a new use for it.. You can start to get a little more context about how your family lived or, you know, worked to preserve things.