Skingraft Primal Performance from SKINGRAFT on Vimeo.

Ingrid Schmidt

Commemorating its 10th anniversary this month, L.A.-based leather-centric streetwear brand Skingraft came full circle Friday night, presenting pieces from its  fall/winter 2016 Primal collection at RVCC (Reserve Vault City Club) in downtown Los Angeles, after showing at New York Fashion Week since 2013. Other marked shifts: The label’s forthcoming expansion into home scents and wares and its movement to a direct-to-consumer-only model. The 13 men’s and women’s looks shown on the runway, for example, were available for purchase the same evening at a pop-up shop within the club, and will be available starting Thursday at Skingraft’s  flagship store at 758 South Spring Street downtown and October 1 at skingraftdesigns.com.

“I’m so sick of doing fashion shows with people loving [the styles] but having to wait six months to buy them,” said creative director Jonny Cota, co-founder and  co-owner of the company with his brother Christopher, who serves as chief financial officer. (While the Cotas received backing from investment holding company Innov8 in 2015, they bought back the company in full earlier this year.)

“We finally got to invite our top clients to this show,” the 33-year-old designer said. “In New York, we would have a huge 400-person capacity space but were told we could only invite 30 people because of press, celebrities [and] bloggers, and there was lots of pressure to be commercial, which was kind of suffocating. We own our own factory [in Bali] and know every person sewing our garments. We own our own brick-and-mortar, with our offices right behind one wall, so we meet our customers and really curate their experience. You lose that with wholesale.”

Cota said the shift to a see-now/buy-now format wasn’t a one-season experiment; the label is permanently shifting to showing in-season collections, a move that goes hand-in-hand with the move from a wholesale model to a direct-to-consumer one — and the decision to forgo the traditional fashion week calendar on both coasts. (Cota said future collections will likely be presented at events similar to Friday’s — both in L.A. and elsewhere, including New York.)

Friday’s eclectic crowd — bearded hipsters, ladies with pink hair, indie artists, towering drag queens (including Squeaky Blonde, who crooned “Wild Is the Wind” later in the evening), and musician Mayer Hawthorne — looked on as models donning the  fall/winter 2016 Skingraft designs performed a modern dance routine in ring-shaped formation to tunes by transgender musician Anohni.

In the Primal collection line-up were layered pieces integral to the brand DNA: second-skin leather motocross jackets and leggings, jogging-style trousers, cropped drop-crotch pants, hoodie jackets, and oversize tunics (some crisscrossed with bondage-inspired grosgrain detailing) in a palette of black, white and burgundy, paired with combat boots or high-top sneakers. A knit poncho with banded stripes was the night’s top seller.

Describing his inspiration as “animal magic,” Cota pointed to “bionic impressions of animal skeletons in the molded leather details” and the nonsynthetic fabrications.

“I’ll admit that we strayed from our [brand] manifesto for the past few seasons, but this collection really circles back to our root inspirations — the energy, the aesthetic, the presentation, the audience,” said Cota, referring to a description of Skingraft as “grounded in performance art-inspired fashion.”

Once a stilt walker in San Francisco vaudeville circus troupe El Circo, Cota initially learned the craft of garment construction from fellow performers as they sewed their costumes on the road. His first designs were made from vintage leather garments, deconstructed into small leather pieces and patched back together into jackets, generating the name Skingraft. Each hand-sewn jacket took over a week to make, according to Cota, and the edgy toppers soon caught the attention of musicians Marilyn Manson and Pink. More recently, Justin Bieber, Adam Lambert, Trent Reznor, Jay-Z and Will.i.Am have worn Skingraft, while Grace Jones and Bjork are Cota’s dream clients.

“I got a pair of fingerless leather gloves last season that I love,” said Mayer Hawthorne. “The craftsmanship and quality are just incredible.”

Overall, Skingraft’s top sellers are leather holster bags and mixed-fabrication apparel pieces that combine leather with wool, silk or linen. A new snap-back cap bearing the phrase “Make America Goth Again” has sold out three times.

In December, Skingraft will officially debut the Eskaen line, being tested in the store, including incense, volcanic ash soap, soy wax candles and essential oil room sprays in scents like Cedarwood + Sage and Oud + Bergamot developed by Cota, as well as hand-burned aluminum-lined wooden bowls, hand-carved wooden vases, and horn bowls. Mesh bracelets and horn cuffs may eventually be added to the mix as well.

“When I started Skingraft, I had a blue mohawk and a hideous eyebrow ring and now I want scents in my house and ornate bowls for my kitchen,” said Cota.