Left: Leo wears The London Leatherman hat. Underground belt. Right: Anya is wearing shorts (worn underneath) from the stylist’s studio. Pebble London earrings. Carolina Bucci necklace and bracelets.
“I’ll just show you the view out my window” Eli Russell Linnetz says, turning his camera around to face the quiet street in Venice, Los Angeles, where he works and lives. Even if you’ve never been to the waterfront neighborhood in the city’s Westside, the scene is one you can probably imagine: a row of detached gabled houses, the spaces between them dotted with palm trees and filled with an impeccable cerulean sky. “It’s like that every day,” he said. Seen on a Dalston screen on a drizzly March evening, it is an image that smells of almost cinematic idealism; a dispatch from an America that looks and feels like in the movies.
And speaking to the 30-year-old native of Venice, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a character in any of those movies. His professional biography – which includes the making of “Famous” and “Vanish»Videos and the design of the floating stage from his Life of Pablo tour; the creation of the set for Enigma, Lady Gaga’s residence in Vegas; filming campaigns for Yeezy and Skims; and creating editorial images starring Selena Gomez, the Biebers, and Grimes – is so surreal it feels like a slightly artificial character description. “I do so many different things,” he laughs. And that is, of course, to put it lightly.
Dan wears a hat and vintage boxer shorts from Costume Studio. Necklace specific to the model.
Recently, however, he’s decided to put a lot of those things aside and focus on just one: ERL, his quietly eponymous clothing line. True to the cinematic nature of his life story, the brand was launched at the behest of none other than Comme des Garçons president Adrian Joffe, starting life as what was supposed to be a unique T-shirt. . shirt collaboration for the opening of the LA outpost of Dover Street Market in November 2018. It was such a success that ERL became a brand in its own right under the umbrella of Dover Street Market Paris (the talent development wing of Comme des Garçons), where she sits alongside other early stage young labels like Weinsanto and Vaquera. Since its debut in a Parisian showroom in January 2020, the brand has exploded, quickly asserting itself as a prominent voice in contemporary menswear and, this season, even adding a line for children.
The title of ERL collection AW21, The final frontier, invites to an in-depth reading. A poignant meditation on Americanity? A sharp sociological commentary on the symbolic value of “the frontier” in the pop-cultural psyche of the nation? “The phrase kept popping up in the movies I watched and the things I read,” Eli says. The ubiquity of the idiom opened his eyes to its inherent meaning of false promise. “In the history of the world, there have been so many ‘last frontiers’, but there never really is one. It’s just some sort of totem pole that pushes humanity towards the next thing… ”he said. “It’s such a powerful statement for something that actually doesn’t make sense, you know?” “
Kobi wears Levi’s jeans. Vintage boxer briefs from the Costume studio. Pebble London Necklaces.
It is an observation which reveals the heart of ERL, its substance, or rather its conspicuous and subversive lack. Eli is inspired by the nostalgic fashion iconography inherent in American self-understanding: tails with champagne satin peak lapels that suggest prom dreams tinged with rose; reds, whites and blues; stars and stripes; sports and sports; plaid and jersey and denim. “All of these things that represent something that makes absolutely no sense.” The lack of “meaning” invested in clothing is truly a deeper disruptive meditation. The success of his work vacillates on a sharp balance; the mischievous mischief of Johnny Tsunami snowboarder hats and frat-ish t-shirts and belts, printed and embossed with Greek letters spelling “EAT ME”, offset by the quiet rigor of roomy ombre knits and red carpet-ready suits.
A risk any designer runs in taking such an iconoclastic approach to their practice – creating, in fact, a compilation of empty signifiers – is that the results, while certainly ironic and clever, can often seem a bit hollow. Not in the case of ERL. There is flesh in the ideas he conveys. They are rooted in a naivety that seems essentially human. “I feel like I approach everything authentically,” Eli says, “and I feel like I’m actually an embodiment of the clothes I make, you know? “
Sonny wears a Hollywood Candy necklace. Pantherella socks. George Cox shoes.
So the guiding line that connects the disparate themes of ERL is, well, the man it is named after. Rather than a label aimed at making a particular point, it’s a constellation in the form of Eli Russell Linnetz, his memories, moods, and thoughts. “One of the reasons I even started the clothing line was that I was fed up with working for other people,” he says, “I needed an outlet. One particular flashpoint came on a work trip to China, where he was running an ad for McDonald’s. “My brain was just going to implode. That’s when I came back and thought, ‘I have to change my life.’ Things didn’t seem honest,” he said. got rid of all the excessive noise and really meditated, my real personality showed up in the clothes. ”
Indeed, for a brand run by someone who made a name for themselves as a renowned LA game maverick, the lack of fame in the ERL narrative is remarkable. This is, of course, a conscious choice; a decision rooted in the desire to see the ERL prosper on its own. “I thought if I started a line my name wouldn’t be there,” he says. “I mean, those are my initials, but the irony is that people like Kylie Jenner are calling us and asking us to wear something, and she doesn’t even know it’s me. I, like, took pictures of her baby, and she has no idea that it’s me doing the label, which I adore.
Tara wears stylist studio shorts. Vintage neck warmer from Costume Studio. The London Leatherman cuffs. Pantherella socks. George Cox shoes.
The lack of explicit connections to the people that Eli undoubtedly has on speed dial is, arguably, a key part of what makes ERL appealing to you, me, and Justin Bieber (“He just went and bought the collection. at Dover Street Market, ”says Eli, emphasizing ERL’s strict no-donation policy). Rather than relying too heavily on a particular story, personality, or narrative, the image she projects reads almost like a warm amalgamation of California dreams, both familiar and vague enough to convey the feeling like it might just be real.
After spending the last thousand words pondering the reasons for ERL’s overnight success, it seems appropriate to ask Eli what he thinks the answer is. “I think that’s just my personality,” is his blunt response. “I’m not saying I’m trendy or anything, but, like… I feel like I have a really weird trajectory of specific life events that manifested in this weirdly thing. approachable but eccentric, but mischievous, yet new, but naive… you know? ” We do.
First wears the model’s collar. George Cox shoes.
Photography Will Scarborough
Louis Pray Tisdall Style
Hair Franziska Presche at Ensemble using Fekkai.
Make up Mel Arter at Julian Watson Agency with M · A · C Cosmetics. Scenography Josh Thompson.
Photography assistance Dan Douglas.
Digital operator Sam Hearn.
Stylist assistance Marina de Magalhaes and Giulia Bandioli.
Aya Kuraoka hair aid.
Aimée Joyce makeup aid.
Casting director Samuel Ellis Scheinman for DMCASTING.
Casting assistance Helena Balladino.
Models Sonny Charlton at Anti-Agency. Tara Halliwell at IMG. Anya Parkas at MILK. Leo Tully in the present tense.