On Thursday, L.A. Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers joined Sports Illustrated’s Jamie Lisanti at the Michael Kors men’s store at Westfield San Francisco Centre for a discussion about his soccer career, athlete fashion, his passion for style and more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Jamie Lisanti:With MLS regular season just finishing, can you give us an update on where you’re at right now, after your injury this season?
Robbie Rogers: It’s been tough this year with the Galaxy, we’re a franchise that always makes the playoffs. There’s a lot of pressure and expectations. We’re kind of in a transition year. The Galaxy are trying to find a new identity without Bruce Arena, Steven Gerrad and Landon Donovan and those guys. And it takes time.
For me personally, I had an injury in the offseason, I was really excited to come into preseason fit and healthy, I was working my ass off. And then I had a PRP injection, which I had a weird reaction to. I had some nerve damage and it put me out for the whole season. I’ve been trying to stay busy with other things—plan a wedding, work on a house and do a bunch of other creative things outside of soccer that have made me happy. I’ve been lucky.
JL: When did you start to really pay attention to fashion?
RR: So my mom would probably say forever. I’d be like, “You should give all these to Tim, my younger brother.” And she’d say, Robbie that’s so sweet of you, giving away clothes. And then I’d say, “Let’s go shopping!” She would definitely say I was always into fashion and what I was wearing. But ironically I think I really started to care about what I was wearing when I was in high school—and I wore a uniform. There would be certain days that you could wear your own clothes, and it was those days that I got to express myself and be creative. And that’s when I think I really started to pay more attention. It was my one opportunity to where clothes I was excited to wear.
The main point in my life where I really start to get more into fashion was when I moved to England. I was living in East London—it’s an interesting place, probably a little bit like Brooklyn was 15-20 years ago. A lot of art and creativity and people from all over the world and I really just fell in love with it so much, it really is such a creative and expressive place.
There’s of course trends there, but I think it’s like the anti-trend. Everyone is just themselves. I really fell in love with that. And actually when I stopped playing for about six months, I was so inspired by it that I applied to London College of Fashion and was going to a menswear design technology course, until I decided to keep playing. It was really my time in London and being around those creative people that sparked my interest.
JL: What did you learn from your experience interning at a fashion PR firm in London?
RR: I was playing at Leeds United, which is like two hours north of London. And on my off days, I’d actually take the train down to intern at a PR company. So they had 10-15 different brands, some really cool ones like Matthew Miller, Casimi, just these really cool brands, men’s and women’s wear. So I got to know those kind of people, see them, go through their whole collection. Also figure out how the PR company was going to market them in their way.
As an athlete I felt like I was so focused my whole life on sports, sports, sports and I needed to find an outlet where I could be creative outside of sports. So I did that for awhile and then I also interned at Men’s Health in London. I worked in the fashion closet, I would do everything, putting the clothes on the hangers. Dan Rookwood, at Mr. Porter, was my boss and he was a friend of mine. He’d send me across London in a cab to go pick up a truckload of clothes, so I was a little out of my league. But it was a great experience for me. It was very humbling.
JL: So you didn’t get any special treatment because you were a pro soccer player?
RR: No, I would go and get coffees for them. I feel like because they were football [soccer] fans, they would try to do it a little bit. But I wanted to immerse myself and learn everything from the ground up, because I felt like that’s how I was going to actually have some knowledge and something after soccer.
JL: And now you have your own line, Hampton and Baker.
RR: Yes, it’s more for fun. One of my buddies—he’s actually my best man and my best friend—we started Hampton and Baker, a line of men’s jackets. We just really have fun with stuff. We make everything in L.A. We either use Japanese or Italian fabrics. It’s definitely one of those things to be more creative and express myself, we’ll do embroidery and suede and different things. It’s not necessarily something that is my future job, but it just gives me another outlet to not be angry at Bruce Arena.
JL: What are your thoughts on fashion and athletes? What makes athlete fashion different?
RR: I think it’s really changing. Growing up—not in all cases but in a lot of cases—there is this stereotype: what it means to be an athlete. This guy dresses this way, he goes to these parties, drive these fast cars. And I feel like that has changed so much, where now guys are willing to have their own identity. Obviously, with fashion we have Russell Westbrook, and a number of other guys.
On the opposite end of that, they can now be creative and be themselves, and they go a little bit over the top with it. Even my friends who are on the Galaxy with me are guilty of it—they might even say that I’m guilty of it! But what I do love is now athletes are not lining up with that stereotype, in a lot of different ways and they’re willing to be more expressive and I think brands are seeing that, they are dressing these beautiful men and women in these amazing clothes. And they can be in the front row and they look great and they enjoy it. And it’s such a great intersection of sports and fashion.
And that wasn’t like that in the past. I think guys like David Beckham, different football players and basketball players, obviously, have really changed that atmosphere.
JL: What or who inspires you when it comes to fashion? Any athletes or other people?
RR: I’m always inspired the way of the past. Whether it’s movies, where the fashion takes us back to like The Talented Mr. Ripley or A Single Man, which I think was based in the 1950’s, or even like The King's Speech, maybe stuff that is a bit quirkier or tailored. But I love watching as players, but also seeing the style of George Best, Johan Cruyff. They were really well tailored but still took risks, before a lot of soccer players or footballers did, but they also would experiment with everything and everything. Before David Beckham’s time, those were the two guys.
JL: How would they describe your personal style?
RR: Where I’m picky is definitely the tailoring, like how long my pants are, skinny but not too skinny. I’ve also been really into wide leg, pleated oversized pants and oversized coats this year. I would say not too serious, well-tailored, with a bit of creativity or expression. I like some color but not too much.
JL: What’s next for you, in terms of your soccer career and fashion?
RR: It’s a big offseason for me. I turn 30 next year, I’ve had eight surgeries. And this last one kind of caught me off guard. So I’m spending this offseason, especially the next month, deciding if I am going to play next. I’ll always be involved in fashion any way that I can, whether it’s collaborations or other things.