“I’m very much not a tech person,” Emily Adams Bode tells CR in a dimly-lit alcove of her humming Manhattan flagship store. “I’ve always been someone who leaves a paper trail.”
Bode’s paper trail has gotten a lot shorter with the help of Microsoft AI, who partnered with the in-demand menswear designer to create the world’s first digital quilt expert. A year in the making, the newly launched Bode Vault compresses the brand’s vast collection of vintage quilts into a single user-friendly program. Armed with a comprehensive archive of historical quilt patterns compiled by Bode’s existing collection and network of experts, the Bode Vault aims to cushion Bode’s rapidly increasing demand while maintaining the brand’s sustainable roots and one-for-one craftsmanship.
Since launching her namesake brand in 2016, Bode has upended industry-wide norms of gender and sustainability—continuously blurring the lines between past, present, and future along the way. Bode’s patchwork pants and quilted overcoats serve as an antithesis not only to the logo-drenched streetwear storm of today’s menswear offerings, but to the fashion industry’s notoriously wasteful production. Every Bode garment is tailor-made with preexisting materials, from burlap sacks to copper pennies. The most abundant (and bulky) of these materials is a stockpile of quilts, which the Bode Vault has compressed into a simple series of clicks.
Upon opening the Bode Vault, uploading a photo of any quilt pattern will instantly conjure its official name, from “Nine Patch” to “Log Cabin.” With nothing more than an iPhone snap, the Bode Vault provides a quilt’s country of origin, historical context, and even personal anecdotes. With every search, users can edit the pattern’s entry and add more information—from stitch counts to past owners—thereby nurturing the AI’s self-sufficient growth. “It will get better as it gets bigger,” Bode says. “Instead of doing multiple volumes, it’s continually growing as you grow, and as our staff grows.”
On the heels of back-to-back blockbuster runway shows, heralded by critics and cult-followers alike, that growth couldn’t come at a better time. Within the last year Bode opened her flagship store in New York City’s Lower East Side, nabbed the CFDA Award for Emerging Designer of the Year, and was awarded the first ever Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation. “We’re a growing business, we’re doubling season on season,” the designer shares. “So it was a necessary component to our growth, and to allow these narratives to be preserved, these histories that I fell in love with—the reason I started Bode in the first place.”
In the midst of vintage lace shirts and down-comforter-stuffed coats, patchwork quilting has become a quintessential Bode trademark. By constructing unmistakably masculine silhouettes with female-centric practices like quilting, Bode infuses every piece with a deeply nostalgic narrative. While Bode’s meteoric success remains rooted in her commitment to preserving the past, the Bode Vault harnesses innovative technology of today—and the unforeseen AI of the future—to streamline and propel Bode’s crowned role of sartorial storytelling. The collaboration is a landmark in the marriage of sustainability and technology–a relationship that Bode deems multifaceted. “We not only preserve antique textiles and utilize them in the company, but we preserve historical techniques and use a lot of historical practices to make the collections,” Bode says. “I think it’s a really natural way to meld the past and the future, and to really bring them together. We’re not a brand that’s founded on tech-based fabrics, or utilizing new construction methods. This is kind of a different level to that, and it’s more narrative-based.”
Although the Bode Vault AI is currently exclusive to Bode’s team, its endlessly evolving database and narrative-driven ethos make for an accessible future. As the AI’s knowledge expands with each use, the Bode Vault preserves the story of each piece while ensuring that it has a future. “If we are able to make it public-facing to the consumer who actually purchased that individual item, they will be sharing that narrative with the garment forever,” says Bode. “And that’s a beautiful idea. It allows us to really focus on that foundation of the brand, making heirlooms.”END
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createdAt:Thu, 05 Mar 2020 20:34:00 +0000