Ernest W. Baker: the Portuguese brand that hit the Grammys red carpet
The founders met in Milan, produce in Viana do Castelo and sell worldwide. Among the clients are several celebrities.
Contrary to what the name might suggest, Ernest W. Baker is a 100 percent national brand. However, the DNA of the project has never been limited by geographical barriers: behind each collection is the union of Minho Inês Amorim, 30, and the North American Reid Baker, 35, a creative duo that combines different cultural references to male parts.
The designers launched the label in 2017 and, since then, have showcased their work around the world. The most recent stage was the 2023 edition of the Grammys, held on February 5, when Pharrell Williams and his wife, Helen Lasichanh, appeared in two sets signed by the brand.
Both looks consisted of a padded bomber jacket and matching leather pants. He used the red model, she preferred the black. The coordinates were first seen at Paris Fashion Week in January, but only the dark look will be available online from September for €970.
“Pharell has used our pieces in various photo shoots and events. We are very proud that he likes our tracks and supports our work,” Inês explains to NiT. As for the opportunity, it came naturally: “We have a working relationship with the singer’s stylist [Rob Zangardi]”.
The designer also admits that the moment “brought a lot of visibility to the brand”, with searches for his collections multiplying. “We hope to continue to have such potential not only for the brand, but also for the country,” he concludes.
The musician is not the only celebrity who knows the brand. At the 2022 Grammys, Justin Bieber wore the signature leather-effect pants during his stage performance, and Harry Styles opted for leather gloves for the music video for his hit “As It Was.”
The story of Ernest W. Baker
This success reflects a “very organic growth” of a project based in the north of the country, in Viana do Castelo, but which started in Milan. Inês and Reid met while completing their masters in fashion design in the Italian city. This was followed by collaboration with designers such as Yang Li, Wooyoungmi and finally Haider Ackermann, until 2017.
The last experience, in a studio in Antwerp, Belgium, led the stylists to want to bet on their own project. They still weren’t thinking about selling the parts, but decided to feel the ground. They designed a collection under their own name to understand the story they wanted to tell.
The name of the brand is a tribute to the grandfather of the American, one of the first journalists in Detroit, today 95 years old.: “We wanted it to make sense for both of us and from there merge the classic with the contemporary.”
“At that time we were building the brand little by little, with small collections and presenting them in a small showroom in Paris,” he reveals. In 2018, the duo were among 20 semi-finalists for the LVMH Awards – the conglomerate that owns brands such as Louis Vuitton and Dior. Because of the recognition, they felt motivated to come to Portugal and devote themselves fully to Ernest W. Baker.
“We realized that this is where we found the potential to grow the brand. We started working close to the industry, the tailors and the people who make our pieces by hand. This not only helps to get to the final product, but is very enriching in the creative process of each collection.”
For the first three years, the duo devoted themselves to defining that identity with plaid or floral-patterned shirts, woolen sweaters, vintage-look jackets, and countless suits. Meanwhile, they expanded their range into shoes, jewelry and accessories such as gloves, wallets and ties.
In 2020, despite the informal scenario caused by the pandemic, the brand shot to the fore. Inês and Reid debuted on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar with a collection inspired by the city of Viana do Castelo. It remains the only national label among the men’s offerings presented in the French capital.
“The recognition is satisfying, it’s incredible to have people all over the world identify with our image,” emphasizes the Portuguese. “Our focus has always been to do quality work while maintaining a strong and recognizable identity, which appeals to many consumers, including celebrities.”
The propositions are already being sold to customers on all continents, with an emphasis on the Asian market. Despite this geographical variety, the label’s popularity is particularly felt among a younger audience, between 20 and 30 years old, attracted by the more classic lines of creations.
In Portugal, the reality is still different. “we feel it [os portugueses] they know us more and more, although it is not an easy journey. Fashion designers are still not highly valued, but we hope to get more and more recognition in the country.”
You can buy Ernest W. Baker pieces on the brand’s website. Take the opportunity and click through the gallery to see the company’s spring-summer 2023 collection.
see the collection
The duo is formed by Inês Amorim and Reid Baker.