Electric Bubblegum – a Denver-based clothing brand known for its liquid glitter apparel and accessories – launched a spectacular new collection last summer. While only a select few items from that collection were released at that time, the rest of that collection is finally ready for its debut. Mariah Hodges, owner of Electric Bubblegum, is ecstatic to share the continuation of her collection at Denver Fashion Week this summer.
Hodges graduated with a degree in fashion design from Savannah College of Art and Design. According to the designer, she founded Electric Bubblegum in 2017 using inspiration from her senior project. A girl with a passion for everything glitter and pink, she incorporated these components into the project. Released under the Electric Bubblegum brand, Hodge’s products are one-of-a-kind and a place for liquid glitter to come to life.
Now, much later than expected, DFW will provide the first glimpse of Electric Bubblegum’s never-before-seen pieces. Hodges is excited to share her vision for this collection she has been tirelessly working on in the midst of COVID-19. For Hodges, the opportunity to show at DFW after all the chaos that was inflicted on everyone is thrilling in itself. “It shows the world is moving forward and things are getting better,” stated Hodges.
Last year, COVID-19 threw everyone for a loop, especially in many people’s professional lives. Initially, Hodges’ intention was to release the entire collection – then COVID-19 hit. “It didn’t feel right releasing the entire collection when the world was struggling and in such a dark place. I decided to release a select amount of pieces from the collection. My hope was that it would bring people joy and happiness during dark times,” said Hodges.
More specifically, Hodges focused on debuting products such as accessories and hoodies. She felt people might enjoy these products when all this chaos was in play. Fortunately, that chaos is settling as things are now opening back up — events, festivals and gatherings in general. This is especially beneficial for Electric Bubblegum, as a bulk of its consumers shop this clothing for large gatherings.
While it’s nice to see the world slowly returning to normal, for Hodges the pandemic wasn’t a total loss. “COVID-19 gave me the ability to go back and relook at this collection. I was able to redesign pieces that didn’t turn out how I wanted. I could also make the collection stronger in my eyes than it was a year ago,” explained Hodges.
Hodges has a creative and unique eye for how she sought her inspiration for the collection this time around. You can expect to see that inspiration on everything from purses, backpacks, earrings, raincoats and so much more.
“Most of my inspiration comes from nostalgia. However, the specific nostalgic inspiration behind my latest collection was my childhood toys in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Everything from Gameboys, Tamagotchi’s, water wigglers, neon bracelets and butterfly print on everything! I wanted to capture the nostalgia I feel towards these childhood things and transform it into a collection,” said Hodges.
The start to finish process for any of these pieces comes with the hard work and dedication Hodges puts in every day. The biggest reward in her eyes is seeing the physical product after all the hard work from scratch. “I always start my design process with a concept. It can be anything from a certain era, aesthetic or something as unicorns or lip gloss. From there, I figure out fabrics, prints, liquid glitter, embellishments and vinyls,” explained Hodges.
“I use liquid glitter like any designer would use fabrics. Liquid glitter is my fabric. When I am in the design process, I source glitter like you would fabrics. I am always trying to find new glitter shapes, colors and glitter effects that would work for my concept,” stated Hodges.
With the full collection ready for its debut, Hodges is ecstatic to show it. In the past, Hodges has shown Electric Bubblegum in Denver Fashion Week, and is thrilled to return to DFW at the end of June. “I am SO EXCITED!! DFW is such a fun thing to look forward to after this past year of social distancing and staying at home. I am so happy the producers and 303 Magazine are taking the initiative to get it going again now that things are improving and getting safer,” said Hodges. “I also believe it is important to celebrate art and design even when the world around you isn’t perfect because it is an essential source of joy.”
As a designer, not only has Hodges grown within herself, but Electric Bubblegum as a whole has continued to flourish as well. According to Hodges, COVID-19 actually helped the company in many ways. She was able to take a step back and appreciate the ways she could help the business grow and continue on an upwards journey.
While it can be difficult to find inspiration when everything seems like it’s spinning out of control, Hodges found she really became one with her creativity. “Since the brand was based online before COVID-19, this past year gave me the ability to really focus on driving online business for Electric Bubblegum’s social media and website,” said Hodges. “I was also able to hire a small team to help with orders, design and everything else that goes along with running a small business.”
While we can’t receive too much insight into current and upcoming projects, Hodges wants to express that the nostalgic, heartwarming feeling in her designs, as well as the color pink, can of course be expected.
All photography by Lucas Garlock