L.A. Galaxy star Robbie Rogers, who became one the first openly gay players in MLS when he came out in 2013, and model-turned-red-carpet-stylist Warren Alfie Baker are standing in front of a rack of jackets high above Sunset Blvd. It is a launch party for their debut menswear line, Hampton + Baker (Roger’s middle name and Baker’s last name). Technically, the line launched two months ago, but the rack of jackets—in five styles named after and inspired by icons like Robert Redford, James Dean, Paul Newman, Alain Delon, and Kurt Cobain—represents a good portion of what hasn’t already sold (online at hamptonandbaker.com). The guys made a small amount to start. There are about 30 jackets left. They are going to do a second season, obviously. They sat down with SoHo House’s Tino DeMartino for a little chat before guests bought a few of their threads off the rack. Get in on the conversation below, and snag some denim afterwards.
Tino DeMartino: When and where did you meet?
Warren Alfie Baker: We did a photo shoot many moons ago. Today Facebook brought back that we were friends today since 2011.
Robbie Rogers: Warren used to be the creative director for Bella mag, and I was doing a shoot for them, so we worked together as we kind of stayed in touch. And we had our soccer/football connection. He’s British, so we’d talk about our teams, and we both loved fashion, so we became really close friends that way.
WAB: We’re the rare gays who talk about football all the time. We’d go to coffee and talk about who was going to buy whom and who was awesome this season.
RR: And then we’d start talking about fabrics.
TD: Where is the line produced?
WAB: A super cool really small factory. Obviously everything is hand-made because we wanted to be a small production. We wanted high quality. We’ve been to probably every fabric store in Los Angeles, and I reside on Kings Road, and on Kings Road there’s an Aladdin’s cave of amazing fabrics. It was the last place that we checked. We didn’t start there, we finished there. So we did the whole of downtown—we were trolling everywhere.
RR: I would honestly meet Warren after training and we’d walk around downtown looking for fabrics.
TD: Who do you see wearing your clothes?
RR: Obviously we created clothes we wanted to wear, selfishly. We created every individual jacket. We were inspired by different icons that we thought were extremely cool but who looked like they weren’t trying. When we were designing we were thinking, “This would be for James Dean; it has a bit of a varsity style, it’s slim fit and it doesn’t try too hard, a little distress to it but not overly distressed.” If you go through the jackets, the white one is very French, very Parisian, very chic, but still slim and cool. Sometimes people have a white jacket on and it’s massively boxy. Every single jacket has an inspiration. We tried to tie them together as well for the season. There’s an American vibe, a Californian vibe. Fall you’ll see will be different.
WAB: We’ve never had one argument. Basically we have pretty similar aesthetics. Robbie is probably slightly grungier than I am. But we’ve known each other for a long time, and obviously I do that red carpet stuff, and we collaborate on red carpet together. He’s always GQ’s best dressed, which I will take full credit for. So we’re lucky that we have an aesthetic that we’ve grown for the last few years. There’s no drama.
TD: So is it 50/50 design and business?
RR: That’s a great question, because I think a lot of people think you just design clothes and it’s over. But we’ve had to do all our stuff. It’s not overly complicated, but it’s been great for us to learn that stuff.
WAB: When we sold our first jacket we actually went to UPS, we packed it, we took a celebratory jumping photo outside UPS. “We sold one!”
Where is the brand going?
RR: We’re going to expand to different patterns, different style jackets for fall. So spring we’ll do t-shirts, maybe a polo, trousers—something like that. So we’ll slowly go into a full lifestyle and menswear brand where we have total control of every fabric and detail. That is something we are proud of.
WAB: So we made small quantities and this is all we have left. We didn’t think they were going to go so quickly. And they’ve just kind of gone. Essentially the first season we just wanted to do online and we didn’t want to go to any stores. We wanted it to be our baby and to control it. Second season we will probably push out.