“This season, we’re thinking about our identity as Americans who make and predominantly sell jeans and T-shirts,” Zoe Latta said a few days before the Eckhaus Latta show at the designers’ makeshift studio in Chinatown. “What are pieces that we can add into this idea of sportswear in 2023?”

Latta and Mike Eckhaus never really have fantastical inspirations for their collections, but there’s always something magical that seeps in through their matter-of-fact approach to making clothes. What they want is to do is sell. (Their venue this season was the International Building in Rockefeller Center, which harks back to the great business centers of yesteryear, with dramatic escalators and a 45-foot statue of Atlas “carrying the heavens he was condemned by Zeus to hold upon his shoulders for all eternity,” as they wrote in their show notes.)

“There’s something deeply sad about working all day and night on a garment that’s going to be seen for four minutes max, and then maybe get pulled [for a photo shoot], and then lost by a stylist. Or FedEx,” Latta said. “So we want to figure out where our language exists in an exciting way, but also in a way that is reproducible and wearable. Finding the things that can be a more ‘luxury’ offering and the ones where we can have more accessible price points that are still cool and exciting.” On the luxury end, they worked with deadstock leather from Portugal to make fantastic jackets, slim dresses, and baggy jeans that will be produced in limited runs. They’re also introducing a line of unisex sunglasses. “No peacock styles here, just two classic styles that look good on everyone and won’t be out of style next season,” she said.

As always, the excitement came from the materials. The designers worked with Unspun to develop custom fabrics for denim. “It was so much fun to work with a new technology and develop fabrics,” Latta said. A pair of extra-wide, coarse-woven jeans was made out of twine they sourced at a hardware store. They curved elegantly around the legs like a small ball skirt, but also gave the impression of a cowboy in chaps (there were hints of the American West throughout). Another pair was made from the kind of plastic that’s used for Ikea bags, and yet another from the yarn the company uses to calibrate its looms. Unspun 3D-prints its jeans by weaving circular tubes graded to the size, which makes them seamless (and almost zero waste) and also allows for the creation of interesting shapes, like in a pair made from shiny foil that draped elegantly around the legs and another pair made from a Lurex type of material that offered a bit of madcap opulence in the little loops the fibers created as they circled the legs.

The jeans made of jeans were just as exciting. Their new “blue” has the slightest hint of a yellow hue that suggests a bit of wear and wash, and the designers also did an allover metallic mint green coating. As was their approach, they made classic pieces with them, including a very cool maxiskirt with a functional exposed zipper on the front and back.

You know an Eckhaus Latta sweater when you see one; this season the pair experimented with “circular knitting” made down the street from their studio in Los Angeles. “The idea of not sending things all over the world is really exciting for us,” Latta said. A group of knitted separates made from a soft yet sturdy Italian fabric in sheer beige were all “discreetly” embroidered with the EL logo in contrasting red thread. “We’re doing a monogram for the first time, but kind of ironically putting it on these ‘naked clothes,’ so it’s almost like a tattoo,” Latta explained. Hari Nef wore a tank and matching pencil skirt, very ladylike in its silhouette, with pointy-toe mules. “We always have these kind of sheer, kinky pieces—but they’re not kinky in the sense that when people wear them they feel objectified; we just want them to feel more sexual in themselves,” Latta added.

The captivating thing about Eckhaus Latta is the way the designers play with contrasting desires. There’s an undeniable sex appeal and sensuality to what they do—because their clothes beg to be touched, while at the same time they’re thinking about the Patagonia brand (“To me, that’s real American sportswear,” said Latta) and using tech fabrics and materials. Latta calls it “the tension between what’s really durable and hard and wearable and what’s delicate and fragile.” So you get a white lace wrap skirt worn over a pair of jeans and a matching denim jacket worn with nothing underneath, or a pretty shift dress in a techy nylon fabric with Western detailing, or a shearling jacket made from deadstock leather worn with a delicate knit tank and metallic jeans. Sometimes it skewed Americana and sometimes it skewed techno future–slash–Y2K, but it was all unmistakably Eckhaus Latta.

This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.

More From Vogue
Share now on:
FacebookXEmailCopy Link