Eli Russell Linnetz’s ERL Is All Free-Spirited, West Coast Cool

Favored by the likes of Dua Lipa, Justin and Hailey Bieber, and A$AP Rocky (who wore ERL to the Met gala this week), Linnetz’s label considers the American dream from a Venice Beach vantage point.

After a year of living on video calls, Eli Russell Linnetz hasn’t given up dressing for an occasion—even if he appears onscreen from his sunlit California studio in an outfit he instantly regrets. “I forgot I was supposed to be wearing my American flag shirt—dammit!” he says, shaking his head and laughing. “That ruined the whole interview.”

The allover flag-print tee isn’t some hokey bit he’s trying to pull off to tie in to the Costume Institute’s two-part exhibition In America: A Lexicon of Fashion (part one opens on September 18)—it was the star of Linnetz’s recent ERL menswear collection, set alongside techno silver trousers and kitschy tuxedos. And while his debut women’s collection doesn’t feature the old stars and stripes, it’s infused with an all-American spirit. For the past two years, Linnetz has been recrafting the American dream as he sees it from his Venice Beach vantage point.

You could say he’s been at it even longer. Born and raised in California, the 30-year-old Linnetz grew up surfing and enrolled at USC as a screenwriting student, opera singer, and costume designer. “Theatricality has always been in my soul,” he says. “I’m always expressing myself through fantasy.”

Photographed by Eli Russell Linnetz

Shortly after graduation, Linnetz’s pursuit of fashion took a left turn when, in 2016, he found himself working in the inner sanctum of Kanye West’s artistic studio, helping conceptualize his Saint Pablo Tour and directing Teyana Taylor for West’s “Fade” video. Two years later, he had become Lady Gaga’s de facto photographer, working on her Enigma residency in Las Vegas. A film project for Comme des Garçons’s Andy Warhol–inspired fragrance introduced Linnetz to Adrian Joffe, the president of Comme and Dover Street Market, who was so impressed that he gave Linnetz his own label under DSM’s Dover Street Market Paris incubator for rising talents—and, in 2018, ERL was born.

What started as a humble menswear collection of disintegrating football jerseys and wrestling send-ups soon became something far more ambitious. Now, with his womenswear launch—featuring jeans and tees printed with flashy graphics, prom-queen poufs and rodeo-queen prairie skirts, skater-boy sneakers and summer-camp embroidered vests—he is at once entering the canon of classic American style and rewriting its rules.

Photographed by Eli Russell Linnetz
Photographed by Eli Russell Linnetz

Every piece is made from a single, simple fabric like cotton, corduroy, silk taffeta, or suede. (There’s one exception: a lilac wrap top spliced down the middle—half blazer, half grungy patterned tee—“inspired,” he says, “by my favorite shirt.”)

This story originally appeared on: Vogue - Author:Steff Yotka