Senior Matthew Baker has been a standout jumper on the Binghamton men’s track and field team for the past three seasons, making it into the America East (AE) all-conference team five times, placing in the top three in the AE Indoor Championships in triple jump three years in a row and jumping as far as 46-6 ½. He puts in 12 and a half hours a week of practice, but for Baker, it’s not about the numbers.
“My coach and I would have beginning of the year meetings, and he’d say, ‘What are your goals for this year?’” Baker said. “And I’d give him a number goal for how far I want to jump, but then I realized it’s just not about that. I can go jump a cool distance and get a school record, and it wouldn’t mean anything if I was a completely terrible human being. If you’re not bettering the people around you as well as yourself, then what are you really doing?”
While Baker has spent his time at Binghamton University trying to better his teammates, he realized his junior year that he needed to do something to better himself. So he switched his major from biology to English and created an affordable fashion blog called Baker’s Rebellion.
Baker said he knew from a young age that he was interested in fashion and the arts and began to idolize musicians for both their music and their style.
“ASAP Rocky was my favorite artist for a long, long time,” Baker said. “I watched all of his interviews, listened to all of his music and he was known as a really good artist who also had a fashion sense, and I was like ‘Alright, I can’t make music like this because I don’t know how to rap, I don’t know how to make beats, I don’t know how to do any of that kind of stuff, and I’m in the middle of Rockland County, so who am I gonna access and get the connections that he does?’ But his style, I thought ‘Okay, I can do some of this stuff.’”
Baker realized that while he could recreate the styles of these artists, he did not have access to clothing they were buying and wanted to show others how to pull off these looks for cheaper, so on June 6, 2018, Baker posted for the first time on his website to help others in the same position.
“My first couple of posts were literally just selfie in a dirty mirror, this is what I’m wearing, this is how much I got it for, that’s about it,” Baker said. “I try to emphasize that style is something that transcends any fashion trend and that you can have good style and shop at Target or Kmart. I stress the affordability thing, because it’s just way more realistic. It’s not realistic for the average college student to afford a $1,000 T-shirt or even an $100 T-shirt.”
Now, Baker has made 15 blog posts, interviewing others interested in affordable fashion and creating his own YouTube channel. Baker’s first video interview was with Ziggy Mack Johnson, a 23-year-old in the fashion industry.
“Ziggy Mack Johnson has done modeling with Dolce and Gabbana, Barneys, Vogue, things like that, so he’s so much higher up than me fashion-wise, so interviewing him was as intimidating as ever, especially as my first interview,” Baker said.
Before Baker moved on to video interviews, however, he did a written interview with BU senior Halle McMahon after the pair created their own pair of pants. The two met during Baker’s freshman year of college, and when he had the idea to take a white pair of pants that he found at the thrift store for less than $20 and do a design on them, he knew exactly who to contact.
“While I thought of the idea, [Halle’s] execution of it is its own thing,” Baker said. “She drew the entire thing out and literally did the entire thing on the pants from hand, from scratch. I watched her sit there on hands and knees and literally draw on these pants. I knew that she would be the best person to execute something that was just an idea, a figment of my imagination.”
Not only is Baker doing video interviews and creating clothing, he is also taking his advice to the stage, as he will be styling a fashion show for the first time ever on Sept. 20.
“Instead of being a model this year, I wanted to be one of the people on the board who figure out styling for the show,” Baker said. “They usually have us wear black pants and shoes, so I’m going to try to figure out what can I contribute that would make the outfits look a little bit better, because while I can’t be like, ‘Oh, everyone buy this,’ I can contribute some stuff of mine in an effort to make the show look that much better.”
While Baker’s blog began just over a year ago, it has come a long way. His first post was simply titled “You Feel Me?” and talked about his struggles to determine what he was going to do with his future.
“I kept my first blog post there to show where I tried to start this and the point where I actually started writing about affordable fashion,” Baker said. “I kept it there on purpose, because it just worked. I like that it’s my first post, because it’s representative of how far I’ve come.”
Baker still wants to go further, and his ultimate goal is for people to think of him as Baker’s Rebellion instead of Matthew Baker.