American Dream. ERL SS22

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.

Men’s – The Final Frontier. ERL AW21

Eli Russell Linnetz is the fresh, Californian blood in Paris. The multi-hyphenate visual artist, stage designer, photographer, and director, Linnetz began working on his own label, ERL, at the encouragement of Dover Street Market’s Adrian Joffe and Ronnie Cooke Newhouse. Now in its third full season, the collection has expanded: it includes ERL takes on everything from swimwear and long-johns (quickly becoming the “it” item of the men’s season – see Prada!) to tuxedos and silver puffer pants. Linnetz makes apparel for everyday life which is far from being basic. That seemingly infinite potential is what makes the things Linnetz does do all the more interesting. Titled “The Final Frontier,” his autumn-winter 2021 collection riffs on the Space Age, the psychedelic 1970s, showy 1980s culture, and a sort of timeless collegiate Americana that always permeates his work. The thread that marries such disparate items as a frat sweater and spiky ski bum hat is Linntez’s irreverent sense of humor. A sense of levity and surreal bit of nonsense is welcome in the at-times far too serious world of fashion. Linnetz’s intimate photography and cast of true Cali beach boys only help make the case for his clothing. Scantily hanging off the dudes’ bodies, the clothes telegraph the laissez faire lifestyle of the West Coast. Wide wale corduroy jeans have a constructed slouch, hoodies feature seaming that mimics wave patterns, and fluffy shearling is actually made from a new corn-fiber material to be more sustainable. The collection also includes a ski collaboration with Salomon, neoprene cowboy belts, and a full range of swimwear. There’s an element of costume, of dressing up, and of changing your clothing to change your life. It’s a sort of everyday escapism, finally available to menswear.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.