Art School(ed): 5 reasons you should keep an eye on Eckhaus Latta

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Eckhaus Latta, a New York-based label created by designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, piqued the interest of clotheshorses and journalists alike after their first traditional runway show (of their fifth collection) at The Standard Hotel during the recent New York Fashion Week. Transcendent, quick-witted, and visceral, Eckhaus Latta redefines fashion’s limits. The designers behind Eckhaus Latta, still just 26, have thrown themselves head first into the fashion world and expanded the capacities of a tired (and often market-driven) medium. Here’s why you should keep an eye on Eckhaus Latta, as this design duo churns fabric masterpieces out of their Chinatown studio, after the jump:

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5. Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta bonded at the Rhode Island School of Design. Eckhaus majored in Sculpture, while Latta studied TextilesApparently, the two had seen each other around campus, but they hadn’t connected until Latta hosted a yard sale to sell some of her more extravagant garments: “I had some old sweatpants that were white, and the first time I’d worn them I had menstruated all over them. And when I saw Mike I knew immediately that he needed to have them, and he actually really liked them.” (They had been washed). This encounter set the tone of their friendship, and thus, an art-partnership was born. “Eager to be in a critical conversation…[where] the conversation seemed so much more geared around exploration and new forms,” they both studied fine arts at RISD, but after they met, Eckhaus and Latta both began to make clothing in their separate studio work and flesh out their ideas about fashion with each other. After graduating from RISD, he designed accessories for Marc Jacobs, and she worked as a fellow for the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the two couldn’t suppress their entrepreneurial spirit for long. They started Eckhaus Latta in December 2011, and held their first show in February 2012. Now, Eckhaus Latta’s work can be found in select stores, including two Soho staples, Opening Ceremony and VFILES.

Eckhaus and Latta cite their RISD education as a formative experience: the project-based studio art curriculum taught the two designers how to attack problems as they arise, and how to work as hard as humanly possible. RISD’s philosophy can also be detected in their detail-oriented nature. Eckhaus and Latta control every aspect of production and leave no surface unconsidered: for their fifth line, they tinted some models’ skin with blue and green paint, and adorned other models’ teeth with dental hardware.

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4. Eckhaus Latta dedicated their Autumn/Winter 2013 line to Steve Jobs. Using iron-on image transfers, Eckhaus Latta created these fabric shrines for Apple’s late founder. Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow. 

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In place of a tag, Eckhaus Latta printed their brand’s name on a grain of rice, inserted it into a vial, and attached the encased grain to the “fan-art print” sweatshirt, shown above. Again, leaving no detail unaccounted for or untouched! 

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3. Eckhaus Latta collaborates with other innovative, upcoming artists in order to investigate the potential of the fashion film. They have primarily worked with the admirable Alexa Karolinski, who directed the video for the Autumn/Winter ’13 Steve Jobs-inspired line:

Other Eckhaus/Latta/Karolinski collaborations include:

  • a fashion film of Chinese seniors performing tai chi while wearing Eckhaus Latta
  • a video of Eckhaus Latta’s early shows of their Spring/Summer ’14 line, where the models walked in a Berlin supermarket’s parking lot (the Anthology Film Archives in New York live-streamed the footage to a full theater)
  • a fashion film of a dinner party, where the dinner guests sport Eckhaus Latta pieces protected by clear garment bags that function as full-body bibs
  • a fashion film which mimics the format of a television show’s introductory titles, with fictional characters who wear Eckhaus Latta’s most recent collection

2. Eckhaus Latta has constructed clothes out of:

  • surgical tape
  • masking tape
  • construction tape
  • fishing line
  • lenticular sheeting
  • an Ikea cowhide rug (for shoes)
  • double sided PolarTec Polar Fleece
  • mosquito netting
  • chenille

Eckhaus Latta embraces deadstock and unconventional materials, and their fifth collection was no exception: the models walked The Standard’s runway sporting garments made out of goat mohair upholstery velvet, wool, flannel, hand-loomed knits, military surplus blankets, shearling, rabbit fur, and faux-suede. Eckhaus Latta even experiments with cosmetics. Recently, they collaborated with K-Hole and developed a 2-pack of deodorant entitled “Brad and You,” inspired by Brad Pitt, armpits, and anxiety. The Brad deodorant smells like Old Spice, and the You deodorant is a concoction of dirt, counterfeit Chanel No. 5 from Canal Street, vetiver, rose, Marlboro Lights, pepper, smoked barley, saliva, and lanolin. Jokes on you, I guess. 

1. Eckhaus Latta offers a little something for everyone, even you Literary Arts concentrators and St. Anthony Hall types. Unlike other labels, Eckhaus Latta waxed poetic in their Autumn/Winter 14 press release:

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Eckhaus Latta, a goldmine of inspiration for creatives, serves as a reminder that being a Millennial self-starter doesn’t need to be synonymous with writing code. Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta’s seamless fluidity between art and fashion sets them apart from the other new names in the fashion world. The five Eckhaus Latta collections advocate for the value of a RISD BFA: sculptural and textural experiments appear in each of Eckhaus Latta’s pieces. Perhaps the company won’t change the airbrushed face of the fashion industry, but at least they are playing orthodontist and slapping some much-needed braces on it (sometimes literally, it seems). Make Eckhaus Latta a part of your fashion vocabulary. 

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1 Comment

  1. Daniel Moraff

    I think I see a little sweatshop worker on that Apple dress.

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