Walk That Walk. Eckhaus Latta SS21

I loved Eckhaus Latta‘s spring-summer 2021 collection for its honesty and rawness. Walking became, thanks to COVID, pretty much everyone’s primary outdoor activity these days. As a parallel to that, the show celebrated this fact. It was staged outdoors, underneath a section of New York’s FDR Drive where a long, straight jogging path provided a runway, and with a bare minimum of fuss: hair au naturel, model-applied makeup, no soundtrack, just an abbreviated collection and the train rumbling by now and then. “We wanted it to feel, like, no spectacle,Mike Eckhaus explained after the show. “Like the models could just be going out for a walk with their friends.” The clothes matched that easygoing manner. There were stylish sweats, of course, but also baggy jeans and knit suiting and gingham tops with the airiness of wind-borne kites. The most fitted looks were knit and the most tailored were done of featherweight nylon, the material often patchworked together in tonal color blocks. These were casual items, but every garment seemed to have been hand-worked, and that gave this collection a bit of emotional undertow; in a socially distanced era, it felt as though Eckhaus and Zoe Latta were communicating touch through their clothes. That was true of the collection’s ornate crochets, but it was also true of the hand-dyed jeans and the burnout florals. Smart, authentic, durable clothes for the new reality.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Soft Experimental. Eckhaus Latta AW20

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Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta were working through a bunch of ideas this season – colored acid-washed and “experimental” distressed denim, as they put it after their Eckhaus Latta show; boxy tailoring paired with either super-abbreviated skirts or languid, flared trousers; liquid fabric effects. As is typical for this New York-based label, the clothes were gently (rather than aggressively) challenging, with most of the novelty to be found in the occasional so-odd-its-good proportion, the unexpected finish on a garment, or the painterly quality of the garments’ surfaces (take the sweater knit with what looked like brushstrokes of bold color or jeans with a watercolor-y acid wash). Everything, even the purposefully frayed pieces, was executed with a lot of polish – and that, Latta and Eckhaus said, was the real story here. As Latta noted, they were posing “existential questions” to themselves, like, “What are we doing here?” and “Why are we making any of this?” that they answered by focusing on craft. The goal, they said, was for every piece in this collection to have a long life cycle, whether that means one wearer using a garment over many years, or several wearers enjoying the same piece. “Whatever we made,” Latta elaborated, “we wanted it to last.” Another sustainability step they took was partnering with resale site The RealReal to source footwear for the runway. Give an existing shoe a life, instead of making dozens of prototypes and samples is a great idea. But also, Mike and Zoe have always been more interested in producing clothes for varying types of people to integrate into their lives and wardrobes as they please than they have been in creating a brand uniform. Seeing all different shoes on the models highlighted the designers’ commitment to designing collections that can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Simpler. Eckhaus Latta SS20

Eckhaus Latta, the brand that pioneered showing in Brooklyn, made non-models castings a norm and intrigued with its rawness and quirkiness, presented one of its simplest and probably most commerce-wise collections to date. Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta’s long-time friends, like Camille de Terre, Hari Nef and Paloma Elsesser, walked in loosely-fitted pantsuits, lightweight knits and sequinned tank-tops and dresses in electrifying blue and orange. Each look is made to be worn (with or without the stomper clogs). It seems that the designers are aware that this wasn’t their most spotlight-stealing line-up, but then, they don’t really care for mainstream attention. Eckhaus Latta customers, at different ages and sizes, will be happy wearing one of those hand-knitted, soft, body-clinging dresses next spring.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Grown Up. Eckhaus Latta AW19

Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta go all grown up for autumn-winter 2019: earthy colour palette, mature tailoring, constructed silhouettes. Eckhaus Latta affiliates with raw edginess, but this season it felt like the designers wanted something a bit more grounded. Their Brooklyn presentation had pieces that you will drool for next season. A teddy bear jacket; parachute dress in bottle-green; loosely fitted blazers. But still, there were hints of the label’s distinctive, arty background, like the tops and belts made out of wooden car beads. The UGG collaboration on the boots felt very, very Eckhaus Latta too.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.