Ernest W. Baker, Reid Baker’s Grandfather, and an early Detroit ad man, is one of the references for the brand’s identity. With a sense of nostalgia, an intention is made to reinterpret classic garments that feel as if they were taken from Ernest’s closet. Established in 2016 by designers Reid Baker and Inês Amorim, of the United States and Portugal, the collections blend their cultural influences between European elegance and an American rawness. After graduating from the Domus Academy of Milan in 2014, they had the opportunity to work for designers Haider Ackermann, Yang Li and Wooyoungmi.
How would you describe your Fall/Winter collection?
The theme of this season’s collection is a study in contrasts. Reflective of the times we are living in, we saw this theme of contrasts to be relevant to many of the emotions we are currently experiencing. The mechanism we used to convey these contrasts in our film was through utilizing the imagery of a lucid dream, passing from waking to dreaming without the loss of awareness. In the collection, we continued with this idea, as the “Ernest” character this season is very well put together, yet we added contrasts with a loungy, slightly casual element.
Have you developed the collection having already the images of your video in mind?
We realised early in the design process for this season, that we wanted to incorporate a surreal sense of casualness, being influenced by the evolving pandemic and its emotional and physical impact on our daily lives. We looked for ways to convey the theme of contrast with this raw emotion in the film, and expressing this through the idea of a lucid dream conveyed what we were looking for. Once this foundation was established, we used it as a point of departure, so the film and the collection refined and defined each other as we proceeded.
How have you dialog with the director for the writing of this visual narrative?
The director of the video this season, Vladimir Kaminetsky has also been our photographer for several of our collections over the past years. He is very familiar with our work and the identity of Ernest W. Baker. It was a very natural process to collaborate with him on creating and developing the non linear visual narrative that we wanted to convey this season. He introduced us to the work of director Wong Kar-Wai, whose work was referenced to inspire much of the visual aesthetic in the film as well.
What is your rapport with the past and with nostalgia?
Our perception of our work is that we reinterpret the past to inspire the present to transform the future. We are nostalgic, and hope through our contemporary reconceptualisation of the past we can foster an increased appreciation of times past. While we may be glancing back, we always have an eye on the future of what will come next, helping us to grow and evolve as both designers and people.
How would you define the Ernest W Baker aesthetic?
The Ernest W. Baker aesthetic at its core is simply the combination of both mine and Reid’s heritage, the amalgamation of European elegance with an American rawness.
What is influenced by American culture in your work? And what is inspired by Portuguese culture?
The inspiration for our brand, both American and Portuguese have evolved over the years as the brand has evolved. Being based in Portugal has given us access to a well established garment industry allowing us to develop a strong foundation in Portuguese artisanal craftsmanship. Much of our knitwear is made by hand using traditional Portuguese weaving techniques, which we are very proud of, in addition to supporting the local craftsman, it allows us to produce garments of a very high quality and complimentary of the brand DNA as well.
The influence of American culture is evident in the raw aesthetic of authenticity and assertiveness seen in both our collections and visual identity.