Ernest W. Baker Spring 2023 Menswear

Spring 2023 brought an air of introspection and sentimentality to Portugal-based label Ernest W. Baker. Founders Reid Baker and Inês Amorim decided to look inwards this season and find shelter in the innocence of childhood as they reflected on the state of the world.

Their first stop was to revisit their spring 2020 collection. “We’re very receptive to our environment,” Baker said over Zoom from their showroom in Paris, “and the feelings of what has been going on, they do affect our design process, so we wanted to use the collection to show what we’re feeling.” Baker said that their current mood was similar to how they felt when they launched spring 2020, so their next stop was to find comfort.

“We wanted to show classic through the lens of a child,” Baker continued, which came to life through some intentionally awkward proportions and naive styling. “Almost like bad taste, but an innocent, childlike bad taste,” he said. A sense of irony is signature to the label’s approach to traditional menswear, and this season’s offering was at its most novel when it leaned into this and the innocence Baker described.

It was there in the styling of tailored jackets with short shorts, a nod to a boyish take on traditional formality that felt equal parts ironic and classic–meaning it felt very Ernest W. Baker. T-bar Mary Janes and sandals worn with socks also spoke to the childhood inspiration, as did a pink gingham jumpsuit that helped bridge the “innocent bad taste” with the sleekness of the rest of the Ernest W. Baker signature silhouettes. Another highlight of that sort was a pair of flared, black leather overalls–perhaps the piece that spoke to the cool-factor of their customer the best. Elsewhere, with the exception of gift bows worn as brooches throughout, the childhood narrative was much less felt. Baker and Amorim conjured up some solid pieces to flex their cutting and technical skills.

Tailoring continues to be the reliable, consistent hero found in any Ernest W. Baker collection. Most striking was an impressively cut lapel-less, double breasted jacket in plaid, poppy red, and lilac. A dashed pinstripe inspired by rainfall was a welcome take on the traditional suiting fabric, and as the label continues to expand, novelties like this, which highlight their ease for reimagining menswear staples, will be good to lean into.

There’s a femme-ness to their approach to tailoring, too, which Baker says is simply the result of their design process. “We like to leave it very open to interpretation, Ernest was never overly masculine; the femininity is part of what it is. It’s elegant, it’s soft, it’s open for anybody,” he said, adding that the label can be gender neutral, not from a calculated approach, but by consequence of the design. “As young designers, we want to refresh the industry, we want to bring our vision,” he said, adding that “we’re doing classic pieces, but if we can push things to a level that allows somebody to resonate with it and feel comforted by what we do, then we achieve what we set out to do: something bigger than fashion.”

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