Always About Defining and Capturing the Here and Now
By Long Nguyen
For their 20th collection show at near sunset on a Friday night staged on the block off the street in the East Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta continued their firm putsch with their fashion sensibility in the same way the pair had started as their independent brand Eckhaus Latta brand 2011 showing their first collection for that Spring 2012.
Eckhaus Latta is celebrating their tenth year in business.
The duo sent out a concise Spring 2022 collection verging on the same experimental cuts and the mixtures of unexpected fabrics, the equivalent ingredients that set them apart from the fashion pack in New York.
There is always the industry’s expectation that the very young designers start their first few collections with as outrageous clothes as they can to make that initial impact on fashion and get noticed. Then, they will eventually temper their creativity to strike that balance in finding a footing in commerce. A decade later, this usual young designer route isn’t the one Eckhaus and Latta have chosen for their brand.
Instead, the designers roll forward, always looking at the now and the future. With unconventional cuts, making some of the garments in this collection, like an ecru undone cardigan and an undone jumpsuit in bone, look as if the pieces were cut and paste upon each other, creating a light three-dimensional surface on top of the model’s skin and body.
Eckhaus Latta started with staging their fashion shows with that right mixture of new casting involving diverse people with a sense of art performance and garments stretching the traditional notions of proportions at times in a range of unique deconstruction motifs.
The designer pair is great at catching the changing mood early on – they were the first to use models of all sizes and gender before this practice became industry norms today. They put a selection of their close friends or friends of friends of all ages and sexes on the runways so that the fans can identify themselves in these clothes.
The Eckhaus Latta fashion has always been very personal and independent of any ongoing trends. The goal for the designers is to strike that real emotional connection with their audiences, a new set of consumers left out by the impersonal trading methodology of the giant luxury houses dominating fashion commerce.
As usual, there is a white photocopy note on the seats with a ‘poem’ that may or may not have anything to do with the show. This time the short poem or maybe haiku reads as follows – “In some sort of viscose fluid, I’m still asleep, Sheer and Wet, Dry but Moist, No Pattern or Cadency, To Document the Passing of Time.”
Perhaps fluidity, dry, wet, and sheer can refer to the wine color sheer vapor tank and jeans in brown leather or the different tactile combination of a white sheer striped t-shirt and asymmetrical cut-out skirt. Sure, there are many transparent fabrics in the t-shirt and shirt top and even part of pants and skirts on the guys and girls walking on the concrete street.
Interestingly, the ‘poem’ mentions the documentation of the passage of time. Eckhaus Latta is about the slow fashion process, and their garments exude that quality of hand-crafted products and less of the sense of industrial production on a larger scale. Even the pieces in this Spring 2022 collection all have that homemade feel to them.
The spirit of experimentation continues unabated, but the designers also keep a close eye on the garments that will sell to their fans. The green panel pants, the green panel jackets, the stripe slit front dress, the leaf accordion dress, the baggy jeans, and the cropped knits are commercial gems walking along with those strange cut-out proportions. And don’t count out the brand’s youth fans not to embrace the more fashion-forward items like the black one leg slash long strappy dress or the men’s black slash pullover with partially open back.
In case no one notices just how plain-looking the broad shoulder knee-length coat and matching slim pants is like a kind of genderless look that seems so contrary to the more avant-garde looks permeating throughout the show.
Since the beginning, this kind of inserting very ‘normal’ garments that stand out against the more experimental ones has been an Eckhaus Latta fashion methodology. The Eckhaus Latta fashion business model has worked for the brand in the last decade and is a model other startup designers should examine closely.