It may sound like a cliché, but honesty is a virtue. For Bodega, the brand strives to remain true to its roots on the quiet side-streets of downtown Boston. They don’t troll fashion blogs and bite off the designs of their contemporaries. Instead, they mix, clash, and experiment to come up with something fresh and original. Enter the Bodega SS13 Collection. Once again, the Bodega team ventures into new ground, featuring a Vans sneaker collaboration, while also building upon the successes of the SS12 line. But no matter the change in the game, the goal is always the same: create humble designs that stay true to the Bodega character.
Back for another one, our William Yu collected some roundtable feedback from the Bodega team – co-owners Jay Gordon and Dan Natola, and Bodega designers Marvin Bynoe and Randy Price - to discuss Bodega’s evolution, the challenges of building a line, and the Bodega identity.
William Yu: Time has flown by. It’s already been a year since Bodega launched it’s first full collection (SS12), how does it feel one year in?
Jay Gordon: The reception by our peers at other stores around the world has been great. I am excited to see how it is received by the public. We are keeping the distribution very tight, and mostly just offering the line to our friends.
Dan Natola: I can’t believe it’s been a year since the launch of our full collection it feels like ten years. [Laughter] I am very proud of our team and believe we are starting to hit our stride. It’s been a roller coaster of a time but I’m hopeful for the future. The feedback has been very positive.
Marvin Bynoe: It feels great! We are constantly working and progressing towards our goals of offering a honest collection of clothing that speaks for Bodega’s consumers.
Randy Price: We’ve been waiting for the chance to present our idea of a full collection since the beginning, so now we are pretty excited to keep things moving forward.
WY: Since FW12, what have been the influences that have shaped this collection?
DN: The line still retains that Bodega classic style but is relevant to what is happening in within our culture.
MB: We sourced our influences from the same source as our previous seasons. I am heavily influenced by my neighborhood, friends and the every day consumer at Bodega.
RP: Tobacco products, biased local sports enthusiasts, vintage video game art, ambience of different Boston neighborhoods, and still tons of anime and sci-fi B movies.
WY: Each season, Bodega has added new elements to it’s line (ie. shorts, pants, jackets, now shoes,) how has the line evolved since it’s inception?
DN: The line has come along way since just tee shirts and hats. I would like to think we’ve grown organically with the demand for our product. It’s been a steep learning curve being that none of us had a background in production. We needed to adapt quickly to producing a complete line that our customer base was asking for.
MB: The goal is for the Bodega line to be a true complete collection. Our humble beginnings were tees and sweatshirts, the opportunity to create a full collection in its definition was always the goal.
RP: Our knowledge of production is what has really evolved. We’ve had pieces like these either dropped or pushed back just cause there was problems in development, etc. We have built a good relationship on the manufacturing end and wider understanding of the process that allows us to introduce newer and more ambitious pieces.
WY: What’s been the most challenging item in this line to work on from a design standpoint? There’s camo, flowers, tribal patterns, was there any one idea that was harder to conceive than the others?
RP: The different prints are always a bit tricky when it comes making a workable pattern for large scale printing. But I think the pants/shorts consistently offer a challenge. The process of fitting them correctly involves more back and forth when compared to other pieces.
WY: Potted plants. Book cases. Heirloom couches. It’s bookstore meets the jungle. How does the lookbook reflect the new collection?
MB: The idea of the look book was to create a setting wear the collection of numerous pattern garments can be contrasted against vivid green plants in a home setting, and this reflects the collection by showing nature in a practical setting.
DN: This market changes so quickly and it’s important that we stay true to ourselves and not chase trends. It’s so easy to want to chase but that’s the kiss of death for a brand. Its all about longevity and we need to continually ask ourselves what are we are about and who is our customer. It’s important to have that on cohesive visual dialogue building from one season to another.
MB: Its all about being honest to who we are. Following trends is not necessarily a bad thing, Its all about how you interpret these trends. Trends die and are brought back to life through time. It’s a thin line to cross but if your honest with yourself like we are you can create timeless garments.
RP: We take everything out of the equation that conflicts with the direction we know we want to go in so that we are just left with the question “Would I like to wear this?” We have trust in ourselves when it comes to design and style. If you’re following trends and fads the absolute best you could hope for is 2nd place.
WY: The line features a collaboration with Vans with four different designs. Talk about the various looks. Why Vans for this first foray into Bodega shoes?
DN: We are very selective with our collaborations and only do them because they make sense for the brand. Bodega has had a long-standing relationship with Vans since we opened in 2006. We’ve always supported each other and continually look for ways to grow together. These seasonal collaborations are natural progression of this relationship.
MB: We have worked with Vans in the past and have developed a great relationship. We were asked to be a part of a project they had going on and we figure this will be a great opportunity to have one of our collaborations reflect our collection. The authentic silhouette is simple and we wanted to contrast the simplicity of the shoe with funky patterns. Each shoe offers a distinct pattern and has suede accents to add a little class. Our SS13 collection is very vibrant and we wanted our collaboration to convey the same message.
WY: For the second season in a row, the line has items that introduce patterns that you think would clash, but instead subtly complement each other. Where did these combinations come from?
MB: It was all about finding the perfect patterns to enhance the garment with the feel of spring/summer. Choosing patterns that worked together happened organically.
RP: We understand that no matter what application your product is destined for, no matter what media it is, it has to be well composed and designed. Knowing that the balance between elements in a piece can make or break it, we take advantage of that knowledge and try and play with the mixture to make it more exciting without making it to volatile.
WY: What does Bodega mean to you? What should it mean to everyone else?
JG: I would hope it means something different to everyone. To me, it is all about the play of exclusivity for the rest of us. Inclusively exclusive. Without the attitude of a lot other brands. There is very little that the world doesn’t have access to. We are keeping this for us, and for our friends.
DN: Good question. Bodega is something I love, through good times and bad. I would hope that people appreciate the all the effort we invest into what we do.
RP: Bodega in itself is a strange mix. To me, that mix is a perfect vehicle to truly explore the nature of the melting pot that is Boston beyond our landmarks and cliché funny accents. For everyone coming from the outside in, I hope it acts as a gateway, both literally and figuratively to the subtleties of our lifestyle and culture
Thanks to Jay, Dan, Marvin, and Randy for taking the time to sit down and answer these questions. The Bodega SS13 Collection can be found both online and in-store starting Saturday, March 2, 2013.
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