New York’s Chinatown district has maintained its gritty reputation for bargains and good food despite a growing slew of fancier eateries and bars who’ve moved in. It’s this authentic charm that lead the bicoastal fashion label Eckhaus Latta to open its first retail store in New York in Chinatown’s midst. Discreetly located on the second floor of a small-scale shopping mall, tucked under the Manhattan Bridge, the bijou boutique upends most fashion traditions, as one might expect.

Occupying a modest 300 sq ft, Eckhaus Latta’s first permanent New York store stands not far from where they operated a pop-up last year. The boutique, which actually consists of two of the malls’ units knocked into one, boasts Venetian plaster walls, industrial metal rails to display the label’s wares and an open ceiling which leaves vents and other structural aspects of the building’s architecture exposed. A vinyl curtain cordons off an area for a fitting room, while a welcoming palette of neutrals and faded pastels brings a warmth to the space.

“eckhausstore”

Photography: Thomas McCarty

‘For us, we started here,’ says Zoe Latta. ‘[Our studio has] been in Chinatown for the last seven years, so to have a place where people, and our community, can come and try things on and see our favourite things about the collections – not just one retailers point of view – in New York our founding zone, is really important.’

At the heart of the store, a large window allows visitors to look out over East Broadway – one of Chinatown’s main thoroughfares – while also catching a glimpse of the Manhattan Bridge, while trains and traffic rattle over ahead. It’s an immersive, almost installation-like environment to experience the label’s garments in, despite designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta straightforward approach that simply lets the setting shine.

‘To put a lot into something knowing that we can build on it and it can change and people can revisit it over and over again is also really important,’ says Latta, who is based in Los Angeles, where the label already operates a retail store out of its studio there.

‘[The concept of the store] will shift in time,’ adds Eckhaus. ‘I think coming off of the Whitney exhibition and having something that’s purely retail and not just playing with the language of it, we wanted the store to feel stark and pared down, and be more focused on the architecture of the building and the clothes.’

For its opening, the new boutique not only showcases pieces from the label’s A/W 2018 and Pre-Spring 2019 collections, with an emphasis on denim, it will also carry pieces from other designers and labels in the extended Eckhaus Latta family, including Come Tees t-shirts and embroidered dresses by an ex-intern Sophie Andes Gascon.

‘We’re not doing [retail] in a conventional way,’ says Latta. ‘Our take is [just about] trying clothes on. I think that’s a really valuable experience. So for us that’s quite simply what we’ve been trying to do for a while. We’ve reduced it to that point and are just figuring out ways to make it hospitable.’ §