Preserving the past and growing a fashion business using AI

New York City's fashion darling Emily Adams Bode is known for designs that are a nod to antique textiles and craftsmanship. Now, she’s adding a new creative force to her team: an AI-powered digital quilt expert that preserves historical materials and narratives while helping her business scale.

Emily Adams Bode is passionate about the history of American craft. She’s the founder of the eponymous luxury menswear line Bode, whose clothing marries modern workwear silhouettes with the traditional female-centric techniques of quilting and applique. Each piece in the Bode collection is laden with its own rich history, and the entire line is a nostalgic nod to American craftsmanship.

"I’ve always been inspired by the history that comes with the fabric. Antique materials have an intrinsic narrative and value from the fact they’ve had a life before."

- Emily Adams Bode

Emily’s process is rooted in traditional garment making but for the first time, she’s harnessing the power of Microsoft Custom Vision AI and Azure Cosmos DB to build a digital quilt expert, which will help her sourcing team identify quilts in the field. It became apparent that the Bode team needed extra help when the brand’s unexpected designs and beautiful take on menswear began to catch the attention of global culture.

With A-list celebrities sporting Bode looks, the demand for the line’s one-of-a-kind pieces skyrocketed. The team increasingly began to look to ways to scale their vintage sourcing. “Quilt pattern recognition is a really time-intensive process,” Emily says. “As the team grew, storing and sharing data started to get out of hand.” So to scale the flourishing business, Emily has partnered with Microsoft to build a digital quilt expert.

Two women sitting side by side face a laptop.

The Bode Vault is an interactive archive of quilts and textiles built using Microsoft Custom Vision AI, containing thousands of images that make up a nuanced library of dozens of quilt patterns.

The Bode Vault is like having a trained quilt expert on staff, with a customized knowledge base that is unique to Emily’s personal interests and business needs.  It helps the small Bode team with both accuracy and efficiency in their intimate and sometimes chaotic workspace. With a quilt expert tool on hand, suddenly essential questions around the origin and identity of one-of-a-kind vintage becomes easily and immediately answerable.

A room filled with folded quilts and clothing and a full rack of clothing.
A person works in front of a sewing machine.
A man stands with his back to a wall with shelves containing an array of colorful fabrics, as he unfolds white fabric atop a cluttered table.
A close up of a woman’s hands arranging material.
A seated woman kicks her feet up on a table to relax and she smiles in conversation.
A woman interacts with a Surface tablet touch screen.
Inside the Bode New York studio

Take a look inside Emily Adams Bode's bustling New York studio, where she and her team mesh historical craftsmanship with contemporary design and technology to create their one-of-a-kind garments.

Trained on the brand’s existing quilt collection, archival quilt material input by Emily, and her extensive network of quilt experts and vendors, the tool serves a host of functions for the business. The archive helps preserve these finite pieces of fabric and provides an educational tool that institutionalizes knowledge traditionally reserved for the craftsman.  The quilt archive helps organize all of the moving parts of sourcing and identifying bespoke raw materials.

“AI enhances the process of documenting these quilts and their historic techniques and narratives."

– Emily Adams Bode

A patterned sweater on a bright tabletop.

In other words, it offers much-needed solutions to dynamic problems, making it the ultimate resource for the Bode team. The vault gives Bode the chance to continue to honor their commitment to storytelling while seamlessly expanding business. And over time, it has the potential to become an intelligent test case in pairing the rich tapestry of human history with the best of machine insight.