‘For the past few months, we’ve been in the grips of an uncontrollable reality,’ say Inès Amorim and Reid Baker – the duo behind Ernest W Baker – at their A/W 2021 collection preview. ‘As business owners, uncertainty, anxiety and stress have been a constant in our lives. It has really forced us to examine what matters and what we want to say.’
This sense of not being in control has led them to explore the phenomenon of lucid dreaming, ‘when you’re not in control of what’s happening but you are aware of it’. Since 2016 the pair have been working within the parameters of classic menswear and tailoring; now they’ve added a slight slouch to the sartorial with handmade crochet, cosy faux furs and fuzzy knits. Details that are sharp in their suppleness.
Ernest W Baker: the juxtaposition of smartness and casual
A/W 2021 reflects a growing ease in fashion that’s pushing an agenda for sloppiness with panache. Pyjamas are styled with a shirt and tie. Organic T-shirts are printed with rose graphics and jeans cut in a 1970s flared shape. A lush robe doubles as a coat. Hand-embroidered chenille track-tops and mohair argyle cardigans add fun.
‘It’s a bit off duty,’ Baker says. ‘It felt inappropriate not to acknowledge what was happening in the world with the collection. It is inspired by last year’s uniform. We wanted to show a new way of doing it – this juxtaposition of the smartness with the casual.’
This more laid-back smart is mirrored in the operations of Ernest W Baker too. In 2018 Amorim and Baker relocated to the historic city of Viana do Castelo in northern Portugal, where the Lima river meets the Atlantic Ocean, to be closer to their production. Everything is done within a 30km radius of the studio.
‘Our jobs have changed. We have had to become more flexible with things spinning out of our control,’ they say. ‘If we have to roll with the punches right now, we wanted to build an aesthetic around it.’
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London based writer Dal Chodha is editor-in-chief of Archivist Addendum — a publishing project that explores the gap between fashion editorial and academe. He writes for various international titles and journals on fashion, art and culture and is a contributing editor at Wallpaper*. Chodha has been working in academic institutions for more than a decade and is Stage 1 Leader of the BA Fashion Communication and Promotion course at Central Saint Martins. In 2020 he published his first book SHOW NOTES, an original hybrid of journalism, poetry and provocation.
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