Emily Adams Bode Aujla's pride and joy, her namesake label, Bode, blurs the line between art and apparel. She often works with rare or one-off materials — vintage quilts or textiles, found patches, hand-drawn or -painted motifs and the like — transforming what, to some, looks like scraps into CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) award-winning designs.
Bode Aujla was rewarded for her ingenuity with one of the council's most prestigious prizes, Menswear Designer of the Year, at 2021's annual event. Amiri's Mike Amiri, Telfar's Telfar Clemens, Thom Browne's Thom Browne and Fear of God's Jerry Lorenzo were also nominated. Previous year's winners include Pyer Moss' Kerby Jean-Raymond (2020), Rick Owens (2019), Supreme's James Jebbia (2018) and Calvin Klein's Raf Simons (2017). Dao-Yi Chow won the award in 2014 and is now spearheading Tom Brady's clothing line, BRADY. Billy Reid won in 2012; and Brooks Brothers' current creative director, Michael Bastian, brought home the award in 2011.
Bode Aujla's ability to transcend the fashion-fine art divide sets her apart from recipients prior. And that talent is the primary contributor to her brand's undeniable ascension. Bode Aujla's also emphasized retail while other brands were forced to shuttered several stores.
“It’s so inspiring to see all of the change that all of the people in this room have created,” Bode Aujla told Vogue at last year's awards. She also hinted at what's next: an extension of her New York store on the other side of the country. Retail, she says, has been the driving force behind her brand's growth, a contrarian tale still as we endure the tail of the pandemic. “Something that I’ve bet on is retail," she says. "Our New York store is surpassing our online right now by 30%." 30-percent is no small margin, by the way.
If her e-commerce site — which is far more pleasant than her peers' — makes $100,000 dollars a month (for analogy's sake, this isn't based on any insight), her tiny retail store on Hester St pulls in $30,000 more! Admittedly, considering Bode is unabashedly luxury, that's only about 30 jackets, but impressive nonetheless, since brands far bigger than hers are still weighing whether or not retail sales will ever return to pre-pandemic highs.
Time will tell if she can repeat, though, since news broke of her nomination for this year's award. Jerry Lorenzo, Thom Browne and Mike Amiri are nominated again, too. Willy Chavarria, who has his own eponymous label, Willy Chavarria, is the only first-timer.
You can explore the full list of nominees here.