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Bode Rec. and Nike Is Emily Bode’s Love Letter to American Sports History



Emily Bode is as much a student of history as a student of fashion, so it’s only natural that her first foray into athleticwear would be steeped in nostalgia — and full of enough charming details to go from the playing field to the street.

Launching April 18, Bode Rec. and Nike is a capsule of scrimmage jerseys, lace-up wool sweaters, pinnies, dickeys, track pants and jogging shorts with lots of school spirit, as well as a reimagining of the Nike Astrograbber sneaker originally developed in the ’70s in response to the invention of artificial turf. (The first model of the Astrograbber to debut on the field was immortalized on a cover of Sports Illustrated in 1974.)

The football and baseball charms that come with the black leather or natural canvas sneakers are reproductions of 1930s and ’40s commemorative charms given to high school and collegiate sports team members.

A reference photo for the Bode Rec. and Nike collaboration.

Courtesy of Nike

Kicking off with the Nike collaboration, Bode Recreation is a new category for the American designer, who is a leader in incorporating the traditionally female crafts of quilting, mending and appliqué into luxury fashion for men and women.

“It was as much about what it means for us to launch recreational clothing and athleticwear as it was what do sports mean to America as a whole,” Bode said during a preview at her Canal Street studio in Manhattan, where vintage trophies, sports equipment and history books were all around her. “The Nike collection and our collection revolve around the idea of how sports are influential to what we think of as a good American citizen.”

A look inside the Nike x Bode collaboration.

Bode Rec. and Nike Astrograbber

Courtesy of Nike

A lot of her research at Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., campus, in family archives and history books “had to do with the rise of sports through high schools, colleges and boarding schools,” she said. “In 1903, the Public Schools Athletic League transformed what sports are to America and tied them to having a virtuous child, and building body and mind. And the foundation of Nike had a lot of those key ideas, too. Even employee number one, Jim Johnson, was a coach, [as was cofounder Bill Bowerman, Oregon’s track coach] and the way to coach kids is to make them better people more than just athletes,” she said.

She touches on East Coast and West Coast sports lore in the capsule.

“We started with the 1770s, actually earlier in 1756 with the Manhattan and Cape Cod boat race, then went up to the 1970s, which was a hugely influential time when television and full-time athletes shaped sports as we know it today,” she said.

A jersey with a “Cape Cod” or “Manhattan” appliqué on the front is an homage to the 1756 boat race in the New York Harbor between a Cape Cod sailing vessel and a Manhattan whaling ship. It features two removable pins — an embroidered clam and a hand-sewn mesh bow with bobble tassels.

A look inside the Nike x Bode collaboration.

Bode Rec. and Nike

Courtesy of Nike

A striped wool sweater with a vintage heft is inspired by an American hockey jersey from the 1970s; it laces at the neck with ribbons, and features an embroidered Nike swoosh at the back yoke.

“The shorts are my favorite, they have the netting in them too, for actually doing things,” she said of the brown tonal satin stripe jogging style with “Bode” spelled out like a personal monogram on the front hem. The shorts and track pants also come in a blue-and-white or black-and-white satin stripe. “I wanted to make sure the clothes were something you could truly wear,” she said of the fashion-meets-function mission.

To pair with jeans perhaps, too, a mesh pinny comes embellished with a felt runner and flower chain trim, and can be adjusted to fit with custom made side buttons. A black tonal striped dickey is trimmed with velvet ribbon and a milliner’s flower, and emblazoned with green laurel hand beading taken from a French flapper dress in the Bode main line. It pays homage to the 1922 Olympics, the first time women were allowed to compete at the Games.

A look inside the Nike x Bode collaboration.

Bode Rec. and Nike

Courtesy of Nike

Ironically, Bode herself doesn’t wear sneakers as part of her daily uniform, though she does have Nike running shoes to work out in. She was attracted to the Astrograbber because of its story. “When it was made in 1974, the color wasn’t correct so they colored them in with Sharpies,” Bode said of the style designed by Bowerman and worn by NFL Hall of Famer Dan Fouts when he was a quarterback at the University of Oregon and an early Nike endorser.

“With Bode, the idea is you could take a picture of a guy and not know what era it’s from. This shoe felt like that to me, where a lot of shoes don’t feel like that, especially sneakers because they feel so technical,” she said.

The Bode Rec. and Nike collection, which retails from $160 to $380, will be available April 18 at and in select Bode retailers, and May 1 on the Nike Snkrs app and in select Nike retailers.

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