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.