Eckhaus Latta & Beyond: In Discussion with Garmento Zine

In the third installment of “Beyond the Garment District: Perspectives on Craft and Technique in New York-Made Fashion” Garmento editor Jeremy Lewis joined contemporary fashion designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta in talking the clothes, vision and “accidental sexiness” that makes up the innovative universe of Eckhaus Latta. Below are excerpts from last night’s entertaining conversation. 

Garmento‘s next talk, once again held at the Museum of Art and Design, will feature fashion designer Andre Walker, cover story of Garmento’s third issue “The Outsiders”, out now.


Garmento editor Jeremy Lewis, left, interviews fashion designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta of Eckhaus Latta Thursday, June 26 at the Museum of Arts and Design.

On designing both menswear and womenswear:
Zoe: The only reason we design men and women’s beyond just designing clothes is because we are in the fashion industry and there are different structures for buyers and markets. It’s not about gender bending, it’s just a certain kind of gender fluidity. On the daily, Mike wears women’s clothes, I wear men’s clothes and it’s not something we really even think about. We understand there are different proportions or standards for different genders, but we also feel that the diversity within each gender or no gender is still just as interesting to us.

Mike: In doing both men’s and women’s, I couldn’t imagine just doing one gender. That’s such a market-driven idea. In the whole world of Eckhaus Latta, inevitably a garment might be more geared towards a woman, but this is clothing: we gender it, it doesn’t gender itself.


Eckhaus Latta A/W 2014 Photo by André Herrero

On their process:
Mike: We talk a lot; it’s very conversationally-based. We shy away from any sort of mood board or visual representation of how to configure ideas. It becomes these conversations that then often tend to merge and riff on a very similar tangent. We will go and develop ideas and have a very strong critiquing structure with each other; it just has this constant organic unraveling.

Zoe: It’s like a ping pong match. There’s never any sort of ceremonious start. It’s very fluid.


Smiling lookbook portraits ft Eckhaus Latta A/W 2014 Photo by André Herrero

On layering:
Zoe: Sometimes we style things as though it’s a puzzle. The opportunity to have one thing fit into or respond to another is very exciting, like having a hole in the back of a garment that exposes a different garment.

Mike: So often with clothes we draw a line at the waist, or the hips, and then another garment starts. There’s so much room to play: when something ends and something begins, where that happens on the body and how things cut and mingle, the way you can expose certain parts of flesh that are not normally seen.

On “accidental sexiness”:
Mike: At least personally in dressing, it’s very exciting when you are alluding to showing parts of your body or flesh, but you’re not giving it all. It’s like this can happen, but maybe not. Maybe when I turn, a part of this garment will open, but otherwise it’s entirely closed. It’s about what you are willing to give of yourself, because inevitably, clothing is a very public thing,


Eckhaus Latta A/W 2014 Photo by André Herrero

On casting:
Mike: So much about wearing clothing is about the person who’s wearing it, and that personality and who they are as an individual. Our casting is always this mixture of working with professional models as well as peers of ours who, through what they’re doing or who they are, can carry the clothing in a way you wouldn’t necessarily get on some 16-year-old girl from an agency.

Zoe: I don’t know what the collections would look like if we just cast real models and had a normal show. I don’t think it would be us in any way; it’s never really been a question.


Eckhaus Latta A/W 2014 Photo by André Herrero

On fashion video:
Zoe: It allows us to again present the clothes in a context or on a person that might not want to comply with a runway setting, but might be happy to be in front of a camera. It just gives us another opportunity to recontextualize where the clothes can be.

Mike: Especially now with Instagram and the shows happening, you’ll look and be like, ‘oh is the show over now that it’s been posted on Instagram?’ Then you’ll go on and maybe look at it next week, see it in stores or ad campaigns or editorials. It happens and it’s gone. But with things that have so much energy and work and feelings that go into it, it’s nice to revisit it.

Zoe: Often, more often than not, fashion videos are just advertisements. It’s not that ours aren’t, but we wanted to tell stories, not sell clothes. We don’t use marketing as a driving point to what informs our work.

Mike: Yeah, the videos are never like, ‘make sure you have that dress full frame!’ Sometimes you never have those moments, but that’s never what it’s about.

On Michael Kors, MICHAEL Michael Kors, and Michael Kors x Eckhaus Latta SS13:
Mike: We have nothing against Michael Kors. He was just someone we were thinking of as the antithesis of us: this ultimate American fashion designer who’s on TV, iconic as a celebrity for everyone, and doing his ‘MICHAEL Michael Kors,’ or whatever that’s made him billions of dollars.

Zoe: I also think we were just joking about Michael Kors constantly with our art director Eric Wrenn. Then he pulled up a picture, put our logo on it and we like, had to use it. ◈ 


Michael Kors COMING SOON sign on the Time Warner Center, one block from the Museum of Arts and Design where the talk was held.

Recent Posts


What is a piece of clothing that “works”? Who is working whom? Is the one who poses the one who actually “works” hardest? The S/S 2017 collection of Berlin-based, Swedish- Vietnamese designer NHU DUONG entitled ‘WORK COLLECTION’ plays with the ideas of professionalism, leisure and appropriateness through a range of garments that are inspired by work outfits and hobby uniforms. Overalls, raw denim outfits, kung-fu pyjamas, biker pants, baggy tights and gloves, bomber-jackets, bomber suits,… [read more »]

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene | Agustina Zegers

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene is a text made up of living exercises to accompany Haraway’s theorization of the Chthulucene and her upcoming book Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Haraway posits that not only should we name the Anthropocene carefully (including the terms Capitalocene and Plantationocene within its narrative) but that we should also be using this crucial ecological timeframe to move towards a dynamically multi-species, “sym-chtonic“, sym-poietic future: the Chthulucene.… [read more »]

Laboria Cuboniks in Conversation

Laboria Cuboniks is currently a group of 6 women working together online to redefine a feminism adequate to the twenty-first century. They collectively wrote Xenofeminsim: A Politics for Alienation in 2014. Here, in conversation with Postcontemporary Issue guest editors Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik they discuss the dissatisfactions and limitations of historical feminism and the importance of theorizing “the future” as a feminist project. Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik: The initial formulation of your political… [read more »]

Situating Global Forms: An Anthropology of Cosmopolitan Science

Aihwa Ong, interviewed by Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik Constructing Globality Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik: Your anthropological research pays close attention to specific emerging and inventive configurations of globally-constituted modernization, particularly in East Asia and its diaspora. Throughout this work you identity many ways in which ‘things that used to be fused together — identity, entitlement, territoriality, and nationality — are being taken apart and realigned in innovative relationships and spaces by neoliberal technologies… [read more »]

Ways Of Living ⎮ Arcadia Missa

Ways of Living, curated by the team behind Arcadia Missa, moves beyond the home as a site of political contestation and into the working place, the artist studio, the public sphere, and nature. While so-called ‘social practice’ taught us that any attempt of art to engage with issues outside its own institutional reality are easily coopted into the mythologizing machinery of individualism and patriarchy, art still possesses an ability to address issues far beyond the… [read more »]

What is at Stake in the Future? | Alex Williams & Nick Srnicek

Every ‘future’ inscribes a demand upon the present. This is so whether at the level of human imagination, or within the sphere of political or aesthetic action necessary to reach towards their realisation. Futures make explicit the implicit contents of our own times, crystallising trajectories, tendencies, projects, theories and contingencies. Moreover, futures map the absent within the present, the presents which could never come into actuality, the wreckage of dreams past and desires vanquished. Futures… [read more »]

Dog Plays | Hayley Silverman

Hayley Silverman’s “Dog Plays,” an ongoing series in which a cast of untrained dogs take on the role of characters from a range of pop-culture texts, disrupt the canon of identities traditionally represented in Hollywood as they are re-inhabited by animals. Calling on artifacts ranging from Richard Linklater films, to science-fiction thrillers, to Depression-era musicals that rhapsodize class difference, these performances investigate how our understanding of narrative, authority and identity transforms when we project stories,… [read more »]

A poem by Ser Serpas

ripped apart you rip me apart collage million dead collage donde queda mi cuerpo el temporal como dios en mil partes clothing as point of impact a totem is a wrap around a city as it is engagement with one’s surroundings and engagement with that which has been worn out discarded and filtered into alms buckets and newly tagged i wear my surroundings on my feet when it wears out i see only my vantage… [read more »]

DISCREET Call for Participants

DISCREET – An Intelligence Agency for the People The 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art invites you to apply for one of fifteen spaces open to individuals interested in taking an active part in a three-week-long public workshop conceived of by Armen Avanessian and Alexander Martos for the formation and development of a civil secret service organization. Held from June 22 to July 11, 2016, the workshop brings together renegade experts from art, theory, technology,… [read more »]

Parent and Parroting | Nancy Lupo

Each year retail displays are readied in preparation for the gestation and labor of the catch-all holiday season before floating into a colorless postnatal celebration of mundane plenty. Capitalism’s sympathetic pregnancy makes for a cold and lifeless pas de deux, at times humorously inseparable from the vitality of social milestones. In Parent and Parroting, Nancy Lupo continues with a series of interventions into commercial products and industrialized food. Her interferences often reveal or reconfigure the… [read more »]