Yahoo Style Meets Hampton+Baker
The Next Big Thing in Denim Is Straight Outta L.A.
Joe Zee | April 22, 2016
In case you weren’t convinced, here’s more proof that L.A. is becoming a fashion hub: the brand-new denim brand Hampton + Baker. We know what you’re thinking: L.A.’s always been the land of jeans. But Hampton + Baker does things a little differently.
First, this collection is only jean jackets — five, to be exact. Not just any jean jackets, though: each style takes inspiration from a men’s fashion icon, from grungy Kurt Cobain to the dapper French heart-throb Alain Delon. And every detail has been carefully discussed, debated, and perfected to create “The New Classic.”
Second, the brand comes from a most unlikely duo: Robbie Rogers — the handsome pro-soccer player and gay activist who rocked the sports world by coming out a few years back — and his BFF and celebrity stylist, Warren Alfie Baker, who counts Miles Teller, Evan Peters, and Rogers among his client list. Rogers and Baker had such a deep love of fashion, they took time from their thriving careers to focus on their passion. Hence, the birth of Hampton + Baker.
Launching this men’s collection as an ultra-curated group of “the item we both live in,” and making it available in a limited run online, allows the brand to grow carefully. Their passion is in getting every detail just right, not getting as big as possible right away. That love for what they make is the reason the brand has major buzz among style-obsessed men — and a growing female fan base too.
I got to sit with these guys and talk about everything from the biggest detail they both fuss over, the scoop on whether they ever squabble, and whether they’re more David Beckham or Victoria Beckham when it comes to fashion.
A model wearing a Hampton + Baker emblazoned jacket
Yahoo Style: Congratulations on the new Hampton + Baker collection! Where did the name come from?
Robbie Rogers: Well, my middle name is Hampton, and Warren’s last name is Baker.
It’s perfectly WASP-y, yet British at the same time. Warren, you’re from London, right?
Warren Baker: I’m from London, and Robbie’s from California.
RR: But I traveled for many years, playing [soccer] abroad in Holland, Leeds, London.
What’s your perception of L.A. as a fashion capital?
RR: I think it’s changing and growing. From Silver Lake to downtown L.A., people really care about what they’re wearing these days. Growing up as an L.A. native, I wore Reef sandals, shorts, and a tank top!
WB: It’s changed so much. Designers are coming this way now, and people are doing fashion shows in places like Palm Springs now. The shift is happening. Cali’s where it’s at.
So true. Big designers like Stella McCartney, Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent, and even Louis Vuitton have shown collections in California. But for a long time, L.A. was the jean capital; low-end, mass designer jeans. Did that deter you from wanting to do denim in L.A.?
WB: Our sense of style in Cali is old school, that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. We felt there was a gap in the market for denim jackets, and for people who want to wear them from day to night.
RR: We contemplated having different styles, with antique buttons, hand-distresses, and washes. A lot of brands oftentimes have generic denim jackets, so we wanted to focus on five jackets that are “next-level.”
A model wears the “Delon” white denim jacket with suede accents.
It’s interesting that you launched with just five jean jackets.
RR: We eventually want to have a full line, but we wear our jean jackets everywhere. They’re totally seasonless, and you can wear them all the time. And they get even better with age!
And everything’s manufactured here in Los Angeles?
RR: Yes! The manufacturer is close to our studio. We love the people we work with. It’s a very small factory with small quantity, not mass-produced.
How much are the jackets?
RR: From $495 to $795. We made a little over 100 jackets, so it’s a small collection. It was expensive for us to make them here in L.A., especially because everything’s made by hand.
It’s interesting, because Robbie, you walk red carpets, and Warren, you dress people walking red carpets. You guys have no problem putting a guy in a denim jacket on the carpet, but do you think a woman could do the same?
RR: For men, if you get the right kind of jean jacket, it’ll look very tailored and dressy. A guy can wear it with really nice slacks and shoes. For women, it’s different, because jean jackets may read too “staple-y.” So there’s a bit of a double standard on the red carpet.
A model in the “Redford” denim jacket
Yes, there totally may be. I mean, think back to when Selena Gomez wore a gown and her co-star Adam Sandler wore cargo shorts. And nobody said anything!
WB: Yes, though Lupita [Nyong’o], for The Jungle Book premiere, wore a skirt and denim jacket, and everyone was raving about it!
Tell us a little bit about the role fashion’s played in your life?
RR: It’s so important to me, that when I was living in London, I interned for a fashion PR company. And this is while I was playing professional soccer, too! After soccer, this will be the route I pursue, because I’m getting older…
RR: Ha, yes… 29. I’ve been in the league for 10 years, and have a few more years left in my contract, but I’ve had such an interest in this industry, and my work with Warren has been so fun. We have the same aesthetic and approach to our work.
So one half of you is David Beckham, and the other half of you is Victoria Beckham.
A model wears the “Cobain” denim jacket.
Have you ever disagreed during the design process?
WB: It’s bizarre, but never. We’re both gay, crazy soccer fans, and our conversations revolve around sports and fashion all the time. It’s a unique relationship.
RR: Exactly. We’re pretty much always on the same page. And we’ve made a product that we’re both really obsessed with.
Do you have a favorite client that’s worn your jacket?
WB: Me! [Laughs]
RR: We’ve gifted to some friends and teammates, but we’d love to see David [Beckham] in the “Cobain” style.
Kurt Cobain is my style icon!
RR: Yes, our jackets are all conceived and named after our mood boards with photos of our favorite style icons. So far we have “Cobain,” “Redford,” “Dean,” “Delon,” and “Newman.”
You have all the classic guys! But you know, some of these would look good on Victoria Beckham, too!
WB: Definitely! We’ve had some female clients, and we love a washed-denim jacket on women.
Well, I congratulate you both on everything, and Robbie, for being an openly gay man in sports. It’s so important.
RR: Thank you. It’s why it’s so important for me to stay in the league, at least for a little longer, before pursuing fashion full-time.