Eckhaus Latta is Fashion's Youthful Powerhouse

Eckhaus Latta is Fashion's Youthful Powerhouse

The wunderkind trendsetters land their first solo exhibit at The Whitney.

The wunderkind trendsetters land their first solo exhibit at The Whitney.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

This interview appears in the pages of V114. Order your copy at shop.vmagazine.com today!

Some say artists should be solitary, protected from earthly concerns like the public or the marketplace. But Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, founders of the fashion label Eckhaus Latta and the subjects of the forthcoming exhibit Eckhaus Latta: Possessed, which opens at the Whitney Museum on August 3, are none of those things. They are, rather, a wildly sought-after brand worn by everyone from Kylie Jenner to Walter Pearce. But, more so than most brands, they also function as a collective, frequently populating their campaigns and runways with non-conforming models,activists, and artists who reflect the politics and youth culture of the day. Given their penchant for breaking norms and reflecting the culture at large, it’s fitting that they would break the Whitney’s 21-year streak without a fashion-centric exhibit.

“It’s incredibly humbling,” says the pair over email. “The Whitney Museum has always held a very special place in our hearts so it feels pretty unreal to be presenting something there.” True to form, the exhibit will smudge the line between art, fashion, and politics, featuring everything from surveillance-inspired photography to shoppable Eckhaus Latta clothing. “People can expect a spatial representation of some of the familiar networks underlying fashion consumerism condensed within one gallery. Displays of photography that resemble advertisements. An operational retail environment, complete with staff, purchasable clothing exclusive to the exhibition, a dressing room, and many other fixtures.They will also be watched,” Eckhaus and Latta say. “But the way we’re working together to create this exhibition is akin to how we build all of our Eckhaus Latta spaces. From our L.A. store to our runway shows and pop-ups, we build them with our community.” That community will include other artists like ’90s zine-queen Susan Cianciolo, who has walked in their shows, and Jay Latta, a designer and Zoe’s father, who were brought on to create the exhibit’s ersatz retail store. “Each of the artists will be contributing functional fixtures to the installation: clothing racks, display shelves, and a dressing room, for example,” they say.

But for all its DIY DNA, the exhibit will also make a case for the union of art and commerce. “Art has an ability to ask more direct questions and fashion has an ability to access more people. We’ve always happily existed in the gray area between and enjoy how both spaces can lend themselves to one another,” they say. “Balancing creative design with commerciality is a compromise but if you can strike the right balance, it can be incredibly exciting. It took us a little too long to figure that out for ourselves. At the end of the day, it’s a business and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.”

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL BAILEY-GATES

Credits: PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL BAILEY-GATES

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