Film & Fashion: A Conversation with Ernest W. Baker
Established in 2016, Ernest W. Baker is led by Reid Baker and Inês Amorim. The brand is inspired by the duo’s American/Portuguese heritage and sees Baker’s own grandfather as a muse from which the name originates. Their garments review and revitalize age-old cuts; traditional tailoring and fabrics like tweed and velvet are given unconventional tilts and shifts. Explore clever re-interpretations on classic menswear that stride parallel to their nostalgic muses.
Hello Reid and Ines, thank you for taking the time! For those less familiar with the brand, could you tell us about how the two of you met and how Ernest W. Baker came to be?
Reid and I met while studying in Milan, we both share an appreciation for the craft in Italy as well as the city itself.
At the time we would speak about the idea of starting a brand, typically in various Cafe's throughout Milan, meanwhile observing the people there throughout the day. There is such an authenticity to the way the elderly population dresses in Milan, the colors they wear, the details, the shapes, their overall sophistication and it was these shapes, details, and the palette that laid the framework for our first collection and the brand identity.
"Fashion enables us to do just that and to be able to express something personal through tapping into this creative feeling both of us share is something we are very grateful to be able to do."
You’ve both had ample experience with your studies at Domus and your time at fashion houses post-graduation, have you both always considered yourselves creative individuals and worked towards that sensibility?
We both have always really enjoyed immersing ourselves into creative works, focusing intently on a project, developing a concept then realizing it and releasing the work. Fashion enables us to do just that and to be able to express something personal through tapping into this creative feeling both of us share is something we are very grateful to be able to do.
It’s also always interesting to hear how creatives work, particularly when there’s a duo at the helm. Could you tell us more about how Ernest W. Baker works throughout the ideation and creation of each collection? What’s the studio environment like?
We try to work in a very fluid way. Every season we set a schedule with a timeline for how we would like the collection to progress, but as long as we are both moving towards the overall goal, there is really total freedom for each to do what we feel inspired to work on. I think that it is important to let the inspiration come naturally and not force anything for either of us. If today I feel inspired to draw or research and tomorrow pattern cutting we like to create an environment where we are able to do this.
"I think that it is important to let the inspiration come naturally and not force anything for either of us."
Individually, which part of that entire process would you consider the most rewarding? Has that changed as the brand has grown?
I always look forward to the start of every collection, specifically seeing the colors, fabrics, yarns, the new textures, it's a creative rush of ideas and possibilities!
I really enjoy the research and developing the collection concept, understanding how all the parts will come together to share a coherent message relative to the brand identity, piecing everything together like a puzzle.
I love the intimate sense of melancholy and nostalgia that emanates from the world of Ernest W. Baker. What do you both specifically feel is so alluring about the past?
It has always felt very personal and honest to reference both of our own cultures, families, and upbringings. I think we use nostalgia in that sense, it is not necessarily that we are fixated on the past, we just use our own experiences or culturals as a reference, but then reinterpret and modernize them, with the hope of moving the current culture forward in a positive direction.
I know you’ve mentioned in the past that you allow inspiration to come naturally, what sparked the idea of a ‘Grandma-Chic’ collection, and how did you go about balancing and introducing womenswear to the concise and distinct DNA of the brand?
It was an idea we had played with for some time. We are at a point where we feel our menswear is very precise and clear, so we felt the time was right to bring in a slightly different yet similar idea for the womenswear offering.As we were developing the womenswear, we just started to naturally let a lot of what we were doing with the womenswear flow into the menswear, which felt very refreshing.
"We have also learned more about cinema since starting the brand and the process of making a film, you understand and see just how similar fashion and film are, researching set designers or cinematographers, it is a beautiful and complex medium."
On the topic of influences, I understand you’ve also cited cinema as a guide for creating the stories and characters of Ernest W. Baker. What drew you both to film as a medium? Anything on the watchlist at the moment?
We both have always really enjoyed film and so many important brand references over the years have come from a wide range of films. We have also learned more about cinema since starting the brand and the process of making a film, you understand and see just how similar fashion and film are, researching set designers or cinematographers, it is a beautiful and complex medium. Coincidentally, the photographer we work with (Vladimir Kaminetsky) and his assistant (Juri Fantigrossi) both studied at one of the best film schools in Europe, so it seems like maybe we were all drawn together due to this mutual appreciation. As for some recent films that left an impression, "Night on Earth" from Jim Jarmusch is absolutely perfect!
Lastly, If there was just one piece from this most recent AW23 collection each of you could take home, which would it be?
It's very difficult to decide just one piece, in our collections we design with the overall feeling and look. Every element is connected, however if I had to pick just one piece it would probably be our "Present Bag,” it's romantic, poetic, and conveys a loving feeling, it reflects the idea of giving a gift to someone you love. It's a similar feeling we transmit with the brand as well.