Mike Eckhaus on creating clothes that speak to gender tension

grow up, get out is a series of personal reflections by queer American designers, published daily this month.

Homosexuality really emerged for me around 2004, when I was 15 or 16 years old. My friend Erica and I decided to start creating this fake vacation where we dressed up for high school. Wednesday in mid-April with a broken mirror hot-glued to a t-shirt, or wearing it all backwards, or wearing all those shirts layered (this look was inspired by a Viktor & Rolf collection that had just come out) . That time was kind of my questioning about fashion, but it was definitely not a sexual thing at all – more a game with identity and myself.

I didn’t come out until the very beginning of college, when I was 18 or 19. It wasn’t a big surprise to my parents – they were like, “So?” – but I think it was a very different time than up until now. I have spoken with many gay friends about all that has changed. When I was growing up, being gay meant feeling like a weirdo, but people feel so much more comfortable with their sexuality now.

Regarding Eckhaus Latta, I think our feminine identity is a little harder in its femininity. It’s not about femininity. But with the masculine identity, I think there’s something more queer without it tipping into a feminine trope. We always wonder: how do you make clothes that don’t necessarily feel like you’re wearing women’s clothes or men’s clothes, but give you the tension and the space between the two genders. A friend’s boyfriend offered us this funny slogan, I think he sums it up well: At Eckhaus Latta, you don’t have to be gay to look gay.

Courtesy of Mike Eckhaus.

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