To find Eckhaus Latta’s first store in New York at 75 East Broadway, you have to know where you’re going. Discreetly located on the second floor of the small-scale “Chinatown Mall” marketplace, tucked under the Manhattan Bridge, you will find no signage directing you to the nondescript staircase in the back.
In a city where everything is “happening” all the time, small magical moments of serendipity are still possible: take, for example, strolling into this mall on a Sunday afternoon and happening upon Eckhaus Latta’s retail store.
New York’s Chinatown district has kept its gritty reputation for bargains and good food despite the slew of fancier eateries and bars that have moved in. Two Bridges remains one of the most interesting neighborhoods in lower Manhattan, nestled at the southern end of the Lower East Side and Chinatown on the East River waterfront, near the footings of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. It’s this authentic charm that led the bi-coastal fashion label to open its first retail store in New York’s Chinatown.
For the design duo Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, this area is home. Eckhaus lives just a couple blocks away from the Chinatown Mall, and they both have had a studio space in the neighborhood for over five years. The fashion label’s retail store shares the second floor of this mall with familiar faces: Tramp and Michael Werner gallery, as well as the unique multimedia store 2 Bridges Music Arts, making for a cultural experience par excellence. Tramp’s gallery space is ingeniously low-cost: it consists of ten tiny glass-walled shops originally meant to house vendors on the second floor of the mall. The stalls are essentially oversized vitrines for works by a mix of young artists.
Eckhaus Latta’s boutique – which actually consists of two of the malls’ units knocked into one – boasts industrial metal rails, Venetian plaster walls, and an open ceiling leaving vents and other structural aspects of the building’s architecture exposed. While browsing the collection, you can see the Manhattan Bridge as well as the street cart vendors of Chinatown. It’s an immersive, almost installation-like environment to experience the label’s garments in, despite the designers’ straightforward approach that simply lets the setting shine.
One thing’s for sure, you won’t leave this mall empty handed: whether you end up with fruits and veggies or fashion’s latest “it” brand.