ERL is on everyone’s lips. Although Justin Bieber and Dua Lipa wear it on the daily, and Chloë-the-queen-of-style-Sevigny shared her love for the new collection on her Insta-stories yesterday, it still feels somewhat niche and off-the-radar. It’s not available in every store yet, so there’s a feeling of appeal-driving deficit. Eli Russell Linnetz’s name causes conversations – and you hear a spectrum of feelings, from delight and reluctance to excitement and skepticism. One thing’s sure: ERL is thriving, and it’s just the start. The California-based brand, now in its fourth full season with Dover Street Market Paris, is not just clothing – it’s everything. A way of being, of putting an ab-skimming tee with tatty, low-slung vaguely Hollister-ish jeans, sure, but also a method for re-assessing your life and your style. Theatricality, time, and obsession are important tenets of ERL-ism, emphasis on obsession – these are some maniacally pored over garments. “Cross-dimensional hitchhiking, making the way to California” and “a romantic blowing in the wind journey across all parts of America” were two ways Linnetz described his spring 2022 mood. He’s taken his surfer boys and plopped them in a pickup truck, scanning through the hayfields and mountainsides of mid-America, with pit stops at prom and football matches along the way. The ERL dude’s got a new passenger too: Linnetz is launching womenswear, and it’s an equally manic trip through the codes of casual American style. Tiered do-si-do skirts in acid trip colors clash with girlish cotton tops and school picture day knitwear, dotted with embroidered flowers. Most of the collection is shared across the genders, giant shearling pieces and wide wale cords offering something humble, while radioactive tuxedos and Fogal tights printed with archival Rudi Gernreich patterns looking aggressively kitsch. Linnetz photographed the pieces himself, in his Venice Beach studio, on street-cast models. Earnest-faced, obvious hunks and wallflowers who skew young, almost disturbingly prepubescent. Can a real guy ever look as good in an orange V-front cable knit polo sweater? Can a real woman capture the kookiness of a half-blazer half, floral top? ERL is tapping into the American Dream of a new generation: to become the character you say you are.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.