Cult brand L.A. Eyeworks has some eclectic models in its ads over the years — Jodie Foster, Andy Warhol, Mickey Rourke, Iggy Pop and Iman, to name a few — and its latest face, L.A. Galaxy soccer player Robbie Rogers, is also an inspired choice. But rather than front for the more obvious underwear or watch brands, Rogers prefers to take the road less traveled.
"It's hard not to fall in love with a brand like that," the 29-year-old said. "They've always worked with people who are creative and walk their own path." It's a sentiment he can relate to. At 25, the Palos Verdes, Calif., native came out and briefly retired from professional soccer.
"I just thought, 'There's no way there can be a gay footballer or soccer player,'" he said. "The things that I heard growing up in locker rooms scared the ... out of me, so I was, like, 'I don't want to put myself in this environment anymore.'"
He applied to London College of Fashion for men's wear design after internships in the fashion departments of Men's Health magazine and a public relations firm. "I thought, 'This is what I'm going to do. This is what I'm really passionate about,'" he said. "But I came back to L.A. to visit my family and realized I still had a lot to do in soccer."
In 2013, Rogers began playing for the L.A. Galaxy and met his partner, Hollywood director/producer Greg Berlanti. "He didn't know what the ESPYs was," Rogers laughed of taking Berlanti to the athletic awards show for their first date. "I knew he wasn't going to bring a pocket square or a tie bar, so I took an extra pair and put both on him. He actually put it into a scene on one of his shows."
The couple, who now have a 10-month-old son Caleb, will soon begin shopping around a script by "Philadelphia" screenwriter Ron Nyswaner based on "My Policeman," Bethan Roberts' novel about a Fifties love triangle. "I was in love with this book," Rogers said, explaining that Berlanti decided they should option it together. "It's insanely beautiful. Every time I read it, I cry." But Rogers won't be appearing in it. "No, no, no!" he protested, noting he gave acting a try earlier this year with a cameo on "The Real O'Neals." "I'm so happy I did it, but it was a fear of mine. It's too many people staring at you. I was playing myself, and it was still scary."
Rogers spends his downtime focused on Hampton & Baker, a small line of handmade jackets he launched with friend and stylist Warren Alfie Baker. "It's a passion project," he said. "I wanted something outside of soccer where I could be creative. The business side sucks, but I love designing things. We're doing everything ourselves. Yesterday, we took eight jackets to UPS." The company is into its second collection and would like to branch into trousers and swimwear; though he insisted, "There's no rush."