Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta design clothes to help people express who they truly are, to accessorize their identity rather than provide a mold or tell anyone who and how to be. The RISD graduates began ECKHAUS LATTA as a quiet, under-the-radar label for friends and insiders (or actually, industry outsiders) and have since expanded into a successful, commercial brand still very much in touch with how they began. We’re thrilled to now be carrying their spring collection at Steven Alan.
You’re both graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design, where are you currently located?
Mike: We have a New York studio, in Chinatown, have recently expanded our operation to Los Angeles as well, and are opening a new studio and store on Washington Blvd. next month. Zoe moved to LA three years ago to expand our production (and because she's from California) but we visit each other often and talk on the phone almost all day.
How, if at all, does this inform/influence your work?
Mike: Not sure if it does...We both travel enough, to our respective cities and other places around the world, for it to not feel insular or stagnant. There are often funny scenarios, like producing wool sweaters in a Los Angeles heat wave or silk tank tops during a New York winter but it's always summer or winter somewhere.
Your designs, which have been described as wearable art, have transformed as of late into a collection all the more wearable with the definite potential to expand your fan base – how did you manage this shift without losing your brand identity?
Mike: We have just been refining what it is that we like to wear, and often that's subtler than what might be expected from us. At the end of the day, ECKHAUS LATTA is still a small diaristic practice that reflects what we both want to make and put into the world. Our perspectives are just expanding into what can be more everyday and worn with ease.
Who do you imagine wearing your collection? Who have you been most thrilled to see in your pieces?
Mike: Our clothes should help people define their own identity - not define it for them. For this reason, we're thrilled to see our pieces on a range of individuals, whether that’s a college student, a party planner in her 70's, a popular musician or a friend's dad.
You are constantly challenging fashion industry standards, not just in your designs but in your runway presentations, models, and advertisements – is this calculated or instinctual?
Mike: ECKHAUS LATTA started from a desire to make clothes or work that was responding to bodies and individuals, and we found that the context of fashion was much more interesting, malleable, changeable, and exciting. We might be constantly challenging things within this system, but we're also constantly challenging ourselves to work within this system in an equally exciting way.
How do you select your models, in particular? You often work with Susan Cianciolo (from the 90’s label, Run) – who we love – what does she embody, represent, or mean to you?
Mike: Susan is a dear friend, who makes work we admire. There's no rubric to how we pick models – we just find people we're drawn to for the way they wear clothes and carry themselves and we look at the industry models we work with using this same lens.
Who are your favorite non-textile or fashion artists right now?
Mike: Annabeth Marks, Torey Thorton, Jessi Reaves, Nora Slade, Nancy Lupo, Brendan Fowler, Solange, Joana Avillez, Valerie Keane, Jane Mosely, whoever made Big Little Lies...
What are you currently reading or listening to?
Zoe: I’m reading the new issue of Vestoj and listening to Sampha and Solange
Mike: I’m Reading Natasha Stagg's Surveys and listening to William Basinski
What is your favorite piece from Steven Alan’s spring ECKHAUS LATTA assortment? Why?
Zoe: I love the Void Dress because it fits into a gray area of formality (can be dressy or casual) and gender (looks great on all kinds of people).
Mike: I'm obsessed with the Wriggly Road sweater. I just started wearing mine a few weeks ago and can't take it off. I also love the Dust denim.
Journal readers get 15% off ECKHAUS LATTA in Steven Alan stores with code ECKHAUS0414. Just present the code to your sales associate upon purchase. Discount expires 4/21/2017. ECKHAUS LATTA is available at Steven Alan Tribeca and Steven Alan Hayes Valley.
Photos by Andrew Lee