Zooming in from Venice Beach early on Sunday morning, Eli Russell Linnetz exuded a preternatural calm. He was a world away from the noise and the gloom of Paris Fashion Week, and he was better for it. But if he operates at a remove from the industry, he’s done very well infiltrating it. His ERL label, which is produced by Dover Street Market, is now in 250 stores worldwide. Meanwhile, Kim Jones enlisted him for a Dior Men collaboration and he was one of the finalists for the 2022 LVMH Prize—not bad for a guy whose collections this website started tracking in January of last year.
Linnetz is a storyteller, he went to film school and he said he’s working on his first feature-length movie. For his fashion collections he creates mini-narratives. This season’s stars an architect looking back on his youth. In the look book pictures, which Linnetz casts and shoots himself, there’s a dad and three boys—“mom’s left and it’s just the guys”—surfer and skater kids from the neighborhood, and a love interest. They wear a mix of SoCal essentials like tie-dye tees, peasant dresses, grungy flannels, and corduroy flares airbrushed at the hems with beach scenes. Then there are the ERL staples—waffle-weave long johns, star-dyed denim, striped mohair sweaters, tube socks.
Linnetz has an eye for color and print. The comic strip pants and matching bedspread that open this slideshow will be as collectible as the vintage 1950s comic book he lifted them from. A collage print of surfers at sunset turns an otherwise basic slip dress into an object of interest. And the clash-up of neon camouflage puffers, shirts, and skate pants is hard to resist. None of this is “high fashion” as Paris thinks of it, rather it’s elevated, eye-catching versions of the kind of things people who are interested in high fashion wear everyday, meaning T-shirts, hoodies, jeans, etc.
There’s a lot of potential for ERL and Linnetz, a creative who has his feet planted both in Hollywood and the fashion business. When he gets around to making that movie, he’ll naturally be designing its costumes too. If he can produce and sell those costumes through his relationship with DSM he’ll have cracked one of the trickiest nuts: capitalizing on the consumer interest that pop culture moments can generate in real time.