Growing up is hard to do. Just tell that to the Bodega team at 6 Clearway St. After a host of positive responses to their SS12 collection, the store’s first full line, Bodega didn’t have a lot of time to sit on its laurels before getting the creative juices flowing again for the next season. But instead of regurgitating the same nonsense that fills the masses of “pretty-good” men’s urbanwear, the store dedicated itself to pursue the obstacles it faced in the last line rather than shy away from them. With the release of the Fall/Winter 2012 Collection preview video, viewers got a chance to see that maturation. In keeping with the store’s principles of making a quality product without taking itself too seriously, the new line features traditional pieces that experiment with aggressive patterns: the subtle winks and nods in the hats are classic Bodega, but it’s the Navaho polos and the paneled button-ups that showcase the level of detail and patience that went into each and every piece. Unconventional and uncompromising, the Bodega Fall/Winter 2012 Collection illustrates the crew’s consistent commitment to pushing the bar with each coming season.
This time around, our William Yu gathered members of the Bodega team – two of the three co-owners Dan Natola and Oliver Mak, and the Bodega designers Marvin Bynoe and Randy Price – for a roundtable discussion about the state of urban menswear, the future of Bodega, and of course, the Bodega Fall/Winter 2012 Collection.
William Yu: What was the initial thought process in creating this new line? This summer Marv took a trip to China to gain some insight on the production side of things, how does the practical side of a clothing line intersect with the creative side?
Marv Bynoe: Our design process going into every collection is to make an innovative, funky product. We want to stay away from creating themes when designing our line because we do not want to be pigeon-holed. Going to China was a great experience, I learned a lot in terms of sourcing the perfect fabric. It is very important in today’s market to pick fabrics that will set you apart from other brands because everything will begin to look the same.
Randy Price: We wanted this line to be sorta like a personal wardrobe of a man with varying tastes. A collection of pieces with different influences rather than one uniform theme.
WY: Coming into this season, were there any pieces you knew you wanted in this collection? Why?
MB: I was really excited about the Sherpa Reversible Fleece. Living in New England, it’s very cold and a staple piece in our closets is a performance fleece of some sort. We wanted to produce a fleece that had a little more flare and function than the usual performance fleece on the market.
RP: The Navajo polos and the Paneled button ups. Those were 2 pieces that gave us the most trouble really. The challenge intrigued us because the obstacles were the things that would either make or break their success.
WY: What was the response to the previous line? How has feedback affected the process?
MB: The response from our previous line was great, and we’re still grateful for that. There was something in our last collection for everyone. We respect our consumers and their want for great style. I think they respect us for what we create, and I believe that mutual respect is going to continue this season and into the future.
Dan Natola: We had a huge response to our spring 12 line better than I had anticipated. I want to thank everyone who supported us it is beyond appreciated.
RP: I think it was our best received season yet. It was really one of our first full attempts at a collection but it got the positive response that confirmed what we already knew. A few consumers stumbled upon us in the middle of a project and we’ve had chances to talk to them about how they feel about the designs. Besides these small interactions our consumer-design relationship is still in its infancy. Don’t really know if I want that to change though.
WY: The SS12 Collection was a success, but it wasn’t smooth-sailing all the way. What did you guys pick up to help you guys for the new line?
MB: Last season was tough, our line is still young. Last year every step was still a learning process, and this season we had a much better grasp of what’s needed to create a line. This is our largest line to date, and we’ve learned that to prepare a full collection what’s most important is hitting production dates.
RP: We grew in leaps and bounds in the production process. Figuring out what details we needed to include and what stuff was unnecessary helped streamline our process tremendously.
DN: We’ve definitely learned a lot on the production side of things. Our main concern is quality and finding that balance with price has always been the age old challenge.
WY: Trends and fads continually appear and reappear in the menswear game. How do these bandwagon looks influence your designing decisions?
MB: We really stay true to who we are and really try to steer clear from true trends. We stay relevant by being conscious of our core consumers.
DN: I’m excited about the AW12 collection because it stays true to our style. Lots of consideration went into the design of the line to ensure that the product was relevant but avoid falling into trends. Bodega has always maintained a classic aesthetic but with our own twist.
RP: Really its all about consumers being open to a wider variety of styles. This along with finally seeing that our ideas from past to present have been consistently ahead of the curve gave us the confidence to release the pieces we felt strongly about. Besides that the trends have no influence on us.
WY: What are things that are happening in the style game right now that you can’t stand?
MB: I personally am very happy with everything that’s happening in Men’s fashion today. Men are trying new things and taking more risks, creating their own personal style with accessories to show one’s personality.
DN: I don’t like the constant use of certain buzz words to describe products. For example, hearing the terms “Heritage” or “Bespoke” really give me the douche chills. It’s gotten to that point where we need to retire these words.
Oliver Mak: Menswear is going in a great direction right now – there’s not much to complain about. Patterns and material are on the forefront…mixed with experimentation and a less austere mindset of the whole industry. Seems like style has been getting more diverse and optimistic.
RP: People trying to hard to be different. Nothing at all wrong with being different, that’s what makes the world move. The problem is folks “forcing it.” You’re already unique, if you gotta search for something to do that for you, you already lose. A lot of clown fits around town.
WY: Inspirations for the line. Go.
MB: The main inspiration for this line is the same inspiration for every season. Randy and I are always getting inspiration from our neighborhoods because we feel that the young kids today are willing to try new things and do the unexpected and we see greatness in that. I think some of my personal inspiration came from the New England weather, and the need to cater to cold by layering an outfit and still having style.
RP: Anime, comics, hood movies, life in the hood…I don’t necessarily drag things verbatim from each respective source, instead I try and draw from the energy I get from each.
WY: How does the Bodega brand continue to grow stylistically? Where do you see it in a few years?
MB: We aim to grow every year when it comes to style. We want to push the boundaries as far as we can without losing who we are. In the next few years I see this line growing into a leader in today’s market.
DN: The Bodega brand is an extension of ourselves and it will continually reflect our interests, humor and attitudes. My hope is that it continues to grow and becomes more sustainable. We want it to resonate with our customer base and have it be memorable. Time will tell.
OM: Menswear is a giant jungle with cannibals, dangerous predators, and all manner of flora & fauna. It’s going to take some time for Bodega to cut its path through all the specific pieces we want to present our take on. While we do it, we’ll have a machete in one hand and some booze in the other. Bodega strives to keep improving our quality & refining our chops over the years.
RP: As corny as it sounds, we try and be expected to give you something unexpected all without being over the top. I see us working with more companies and brands in the future to bring items that align with our tastes but don’t necessarily tie into “street wear” staples.
WY: Who should care about Bodega? Why?
MB: We constantly challenge ourselves when it comes to our clothing line and collaborations. We challenge ourselves to be different and relevant, so I imagine anyone that respects a forward thinking style is our main consumer.
DN: Bodega is for those who appreciate the independent spirit. If you have sought us out, Bodega is meant for you, welcome to the family.
OM: I can only speak for my motivations and what others have conveyed to me. Bodega has always been a grand experiment navigating fashion, culture, and art with our community of DIY makers and outcasts. People care because of what we do for art and design through our shop and gallery. They care because they see our path as a mirror to theirs and groups like ours push the limits of far DIY tribes can go. More importantly, they care because the objects and experiences we are blessed with the opportunity to make resonates with them.
RP: Anybody with a taste for gear beyond overpriced minimal button ups and over-studded sleeveless jean jackets.
The Bodega Fall/Winter 2012 Collection launches on October 20th, 2012, and will be available both in-store and online here. In weeks after, a second run of hats, tees, and hoodies will arrive both in-store and online.