“we never fully disclose information or answer questions properly, we prefer to leave it open for interpretation.”

Before I begin, the title of this post is a quote from Eckhaus Latta about their work.1743643_723949910983008_1007448789_n

I feel the need to take the time to reinterpret the talk given by Michael Eckhaus and Zoe Latta. Firstly, I believe that many of us had questions during the lecture (which Zoe Latta asked to be more of a dialogue) and those questions were not asked. One that kept coming up was: “Who is their customer?” and similarly: “What is their brand identity?” What seemed obvious during their talk to me was the organic and free form nature of their design methods, the collaborative aspects that informed and grew their business. Another thing that I gleaned was that they were not attempting to make or construct an ‘Eckhaus Latta Woman” or an “Eckhaus Latta Man” as if this was a necessary requirement to produce fashion or to sell clothing.

I noticed, also, that their clothing is performative in the very ways in which we discuss the fashion (or dress more precisely) as a situated bodily practice. Designing the concept, the idea, and the objects seemed to come to fruition through the very performance of the bodies that wore the clothing. It brought to mind a strong connection to performance art and specifically the ‘happenings’ of the late 1960s and early 1970s in New York. My point in bringing this up is that garments surely exist as objects but it should be emphasized that the designers stated that they were never actualized until they saw them on the bodies that would wear them. Even in their examination of their Fashion Week presentations, their notions of audience and spectator were ambivalent, the barrier between the two becoming fuzzy or breaking down.

As someone who has followed their brand closely since its inception I recognize that their designs tend to counter ‘mainstream’ fashion brand ideologies while maintaining an impressive following. The way they cast their models, the seemingly inaccessibility of their fashion videos, and the performative and considerable fluidity in design strategy, in my opinion, point towards the future of US based fashion. They stand, along with other emerging designers in New York, as another path to follow. Boundaries should be confused and barriers need to be broken down if we hope to change the hegemonic dominance of purely business driven, market oriented branding in this neoliberal consumer era.

4 responses to ““we never fully disclose information or answer questions properly, we prefer to leave it open for interpretation.”

  1. Dear Derek,

    While reading your post, I couldn’t help but recall Elizabeth Wilson’s comment on the Pierre Cardin exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum: “strangest of all were the dead white mannequins staring fixedly ahead, turned as if to stone in the middle of a decisive movement […] The clothes themselves were brilliantly coloured, clear, incisive of cut, fancifully futurist, yet simple. But without the living body, they could not be said fully to exist. Without movement, they became both oddly abstract and faintly uncanny” (Ash and Wilson 1992, 15).
    I really enjoyed the fact that Michael Eckhaus and Zoe Latta put such an emphasis on their fashion videos and the choreography of their show. It accounts for their understanding of the clothed body as moving performance – a very modern thought. Their work demonstrates that clothes take on their full meaning on a body in motion – whatever body it is, of an old woman in Asia or of a hipster in Brooklyn.

  2. Derek I love your post, and I totally agree with Axelle. I also couldn’t help but think of Elizabeth Wilson and how awkward it actually is to think of a garment without it ever being worn, or meant to be worn by someone. I also think that the future of fashion lies, somehow, in reviving its relationship with the body. And not exactly with “the” body as that perfect modelesque shape, but with the body of different sorts of people and different personalities. You talked about the models in your post and, if I remember correctly, Michael and Zoe mentioned the importance of the models having the right personality and right feel for their clothes when doing the castings. And because this personality interacts directly with the person’s body—and with a whole lot of other things that surround them—it is super important. I’m really glad you pointed this out!

  3. I like your post! The Brooklyn brand is famous for its unusual presentations, during which models write posts in Twitter, and videos that designers make together with young artists. Comparably to the mainstream clothes brands, this feature creates the impression of the living organism in the fashion world. Zoe and Michael work hard to develop the re-humanized clothes brand. Therefore, the consumer can feel that he bought a unique clothes created by the people, who use the art as the first principle of their work.
    The individual methods of their fashion studio can are their dominant feature as well. The Eckhaus Latta brand aims to unite the professional skills of the designers and their friendship to work together for the purpose. This purpose is to improve and reborn the whole idea of the design in the terms of nowadays fashion.

  4. You make a very strong argument in support of another approach to creating and selling clothing – an approach (correct me if I’m wrong) more devoted to embodiment and free creation, rather than creating and reinforcing a USP (something that was emphasized in FS’s presentation the week earlier). It would be interesting to understand why our class was interested in EL’s branding specifically. Is this how we make meaning from clothing today? Are there other words we can use, or are we really devoted to this model? Lots to unpack here, but I appreciate your post, especially this quote: “Boundaries should be confused and barriers need to be broken down if we hope to change the hegemonic dominance of purely business driven, market oriented branding in this neoliberal consumer era.” Great work!

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