In conversation with Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta of Eckhaus Latta

Eckhaus Latta, one of the buzziest labels to arise from New York in recent years, is known for its handcrafted aesthetic. Notably, the designers’ fingerprint is felt throughout their collections from the very start. Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, the duo behind the seven-year-old brand, met as students at Rhode Island School of Design. With Eckhaus studying sculpture and Latta studying textiles, it is no surprise that the pair have incorporated an “art first” approach to their work. An approach that Carla Sozzani, too, believes in and applies for 10 Corso Como.

The duo has proven their expertise at crafting collections from unexpected materials, emphasizing texture and tactility, while often playing with the notion of deconstruction. Collection unifiers and standouts include chunky webby knits and perfectly tailored denim separates. For SS19, the pair played with intricate beadwork and fringe details, winning the hearts of the downtown cool set.

Eckhaus and Latta have done things their way from the start, deviating from industry norms to forge their own path. The duo are early renditions of multi-hyphenates, often integrating multiple forms of expression such as performance and video into their work while collaborating with their community of creatives, including a recent exhibit at the Whitney Museum of Art. Eckhaus Latta is at the pulse and intersection of multiple creative disciplines and is the link that ties them all together, much like 10 Corso Como. Read our conversation with the designers below:

Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta photographed by Skylar Williams
Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta photographed by Skylar Williams

Can you speak to us about the DNA of Eckhaus Latta?

Zoe Latta: Mike and I are both pretty intuitive in our creative process. Yes, our training and background is in Fine Art, which really has to do with how we ask questions and engage in dialogue. We don’t really think about the difference between art and fashion; it’s more about the questions being asked.

You’re known for using unexpected materials, emphasizing texture and tactility in your work and exploring the notion of deconstruction in your collections. Can you speak to these ideas?

Mike Eckhaus: The role of hand has always been really important. From the beginning the role was much more novice, but now it’s much more understood. I think there’s things that we’ve naturally gravitated to as individuals in the works that we make together, but we’re not trying to ever have Eckhaus Latta feel defined. Whenever we do feel that happen, we start to inch away.

Zoe, you’re based in LA and Mike, you’re based in NY. What is it like to work bicoastally?

ZL: It’s been hugely successful for us. We’ve been bicoastal longer than we’ve been in the same city, so it’s natural at this point.

ME: In the process of design there’s a lot of conversations we have as we build up the collection. We are constantly in touch with each other, but there’s always a lot of critical dialogue and trust between each other in regards to how collections are built. Everything in the end gets synthesized between the two of us.

Eckhaus Latta SS19 Runway Show photographed by Mitchel Sams
Eckhaus Latta SS19 Runway Show photographed by Mitchel Sams

From the start, you both have been playing by your own rules. You’ve cast your community of all ages and from a range of creative industries to walk your show instead of using traditional models. You’ve also shown at atypical far out venues. Were these conscious decisions to differentiate yourselves from the fashion industry?

ME: When we started the language of casting was really different than it is right now and the way people speak about it, but for us it’s always been a very intuitive process. [We choose] people that clothing comes to life on. It’s important for us to have that active quality with the clothes. Picking from our friends, or friend crushes, or extended people that we may know, it’s always a sensitive and intimate process.

Who is the EL customer? Do you have a specific customer in mind when designing?

ZL: I don’t think we have one in mind when we’re designing so much as there definitely is one proven through analytics, but for us we make what we want to make and we listen to what has done well for us or what didn’t do well. We learn from mistakes, but at the same time there may be a specific person that is listening to that or responds to that, but regardless, we are marching to the beat of our own drum.

Eckhaus Latta was nominated for the 2018 LVMH Prize. How did that feel?

ZL: It was really exciting. It was such an amazing opportunity to meet all these other young designers that are in similar positions as us whose work we’ve known of and admired. It was awesome to all be in one room and connect and it didn’t really feel like a competition so much as a meeting place. And also the resources, and the the kinds of opportunities and conversations we got to have with veteran industry people was additionally invaluable.

Your show Possessed at the Whitney Museum recently closed. It was the first fashion-related exhibition at the museum in 21 years. The exhibit explored the alluring gaze of fashion advertisement, the consumer experience, and voyeurism. How did this exciting show come about?

ME: We had been in discussion with Chris [Lew] and Lauri Friedman (curators of the exhibit) for two years in the process.

ZL: Mike and I were definitely not curators in this process. All of the pieces were made by artists. It was a very collaborative and conversational process.

Eckhaus Latta exhibit, Possessed, at the Whitney Museum of Art photographed by Thomas McCarty
Eckhaus Latta exhibit, Possessed, at the Whitney Museum of Art photographed by Thomas McCarty
Eckhaus Latta exhibit, Possessed, at the Whitney Museum of Art photographed by Thomas McCarty
Eckhaus Latta exhibit, Possessed, at the Whitney Museum of Art photographed by Thomas McCarty

How has Eckhaus Latta evolved since launching?

ZL: I think we just learned a lot. It has been a really public learning process. Every season has been an opportunity to experiment and try new things. I think we’ve learned how to make clothes that are better than before, but our ideas, not to say that they haven’t changed, but they’re still very intuitive and coming from a very similar place from where we were in the beginning. We’re just better at realizing them.

Eckhaus Latta is carried in 10 Corso Como Milan, Shanghai and now in New York, which is a kind of home coming for your brand.

ZL: 10 Corso Como Milan is one of my favorite spaces in the world. I’m so happy that we’re stocked there and I was so happy to see that what you guys did in New York is equally as powerful and amazing of a retail space in a day and age when people are just cramming racks of stuff.

What are your plans for the future for Eckhaus Latta?

ZL: I think we’re just excited to see what Eckhaus Latta can be in different categories or what it looks like in a different product. We’re excited to see what we can do.

Eckhaus Latta is available now at 10 Corso Como New York

Rachel Glicksberg