Merging art and fashion, the young art studio and collective Ec4u from The Netherlands designs and prints customized tights and ties, approaching each design as if they were paintings. By collaborating with like-minded artists, the studio serves as an open platform to connect and inspire. “We wanted to create something special that could spice up any outfit from your closet,” Eva Örk and Carmen de la Roca tell C24. During their research, the two artists both found themselves inspired by tights. “Eva discovered these old advertisements about the history of hosiery. Due to a nylon shortage, women would paint their legs to replace the tights. We always think of this story when starting a new collection.”
Immersing themselves in experimentation, Eva and Carmen are eager to test out different tools, styles, and techniques. In their latest collection, they created the designs for the prints digitally to play with color, shape, and illusion. Their process combines different styles to make accessories bridging the gap between the old and the new. “The adaptability and versatility of clothes excite us. You can turn ties into skinny y2k scarves, bows or headbands, and tights into sleeves. In our upcoming projects, we plan to make more clothes that can also be worn as decorative accessories,” Eva and Carmen tell us. In their work, the duo often incorporates parts of classic patterns, like plaid or pinstripe, into looser designs. “The placements of the patterns create optical illusions that influence the shape of the legs, turning the tights into a sculptural object. Vintage pieces by Gaultier, animal prints, and natural patterns have always inspired us,” Eva and Carmen explain. For the photographs of their products, the duo collaborated with their friend and artist Katarina Juričić, playing with light and vibrant colors.
From the beginning, Eva and Carmen displayed great respect and admiration for each other’s work. Their friendship started to blossom after Eva purchased one of Carmen’s handmade earrings one day. Both artists were still studying art at that time, with Eva in the midst of completing her degree in art history and Carmen creating recycled jewelry and costumes for her work as a film and video artist. Whenever the two friends hung out, their conversations drifted back to fashion. “Before we met, we both had started several projects yet never finished them. Now, we push ourselves whenever we feel like giving up. As opposed to the fashion world, we work slowly towards our goals, taking the time to discover and learn,” they tell us.
In an effort to work as sustainably as possible when it comes to the production of their clothes, Ec4u focuses on limited editions of hand-printed items, primarily working with recycled or second-hand material. “We don’t throw anything away. Instead, we rather reuse the pieces that didn’t turn out the way we hoped and recycle them.”
Eva and Carmen run the studio on the side while also creating their own career paths as individual artists. “We’re slowly working towards making our dreams come true. Instead of competing with other brands, we take it one step at a time, help each other with ideas, and reassure each other through the lows,” they tell us. Just in time for summer, the duo introduces a new addition to their collection: a series of upcycled bikinis. “As our practice always involves upcycling and hand-printing, there’s always room for mistakes allowing us to create unique signature pieces.”