You might recognize the name Eli Russell Linnetz, or have seen it in the credits for some of your favorite artists’ or brands’ biggest projects. The young multi-hyphenate directed Kanye West’s “Famous” and “Fade” music videos, designed the set for Lady Gaga’s Enigma tour, shot all of the Kardashian-West family polaroids post Kim’s Paris robbery, and the viral Yeezy Supermoon campaign. He also worked on Kanye’s Saint Pablo tour stage production and merch, had a hand in the rapper’s Yeezy line, lent his artistic direction to Comme des Garçons for a film created to celebrate the “Andy Warhol’s You’re In” scent. The list goes on.
In 2018, Linnetz also launched his own brand ERL, initially for the opening of the Dover Street Market Los Angeles store at the request of Comme des Garçons and DSM president Adrian Joffe. “I met Adrian through [owner and creative director of House + Holme, a luxury fashion advertising agency] Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, who does all the creative for the Comme fragrance campaigns,” he says. “Ronnie had me do a collaboration with Comme for one of their new fragrances and Adrian loved it so much he was like, ‘We’re opening a store in L.A., where you live. You should do a T-shirt or shopping bag.’” Linnetz wound up designing hoodies, graphic tees, and corduroy jackets in collaboration with Nike and artist Jordan Wolfson. The line sold out immediately.
“I always wanted to work in fashion,” says Linnetz, who made costumes for the opera department at University of Southern California, where he studied screenwriting, to help pay for his tuition. “I remember being a kid and always drawing and sketching things out. But I kind of thought maybe that was just a fantasy. Once I started doing video work, stage design, and photography I was like, ‘When will I ever have time to do that?’ But it ended up happening very organically.”
Now, Linnetz is continuing to evolve ERL. This past week, he presented the brand’s Fall/Winter 2020 collection to press and buyers at Dover Street Market Paris, an umbrella organization that helps nurture young talent. The 40-piece collection (ranging from $32-$862 in price) includes unisex T-shirts, hoodies, shorts, pants, tank tops, socks, knitted sweater vests, corduroy pants, a bedazzled jockstrap, knitted gloves, and down jackets—one of the highlights from the line. “No exaggeration, I don’t think I own a pair of pants. Shorts and a T-shirt is every day for me,” he says of the jackets. “After a few months—we were like three weeks from coming [to Paris]—I was like, ‘Fuck. This is a winter collection. We need a ski jacket.’ I wanted to capture the sunset in Venice Beach. I was walking at the beach one day and was like, ‘We need some of this orange sunset vibe.’ Also, California is the only city in the world where you can ski, hike, and surf all in one day. So it was like, what puffer would be cool to just throw on over a pair of shorts?”
For Linnetz, designing ERL needs to feel “organic”—a word he uses repeatedly. It’s very much inspired by his hometown Venice Beach, California and what he himself would want to wear. When he started designing the Fall/Winter 2020 collection, for instance, he got rid of all of his clothes, save for a T-shirt and a pair of shorts, and thought about what his wardrobe needed. “In my house, I pretty much own just a bed and a chair,” he says. “And I was like, ‘Ok, now what do I need? What kind of colors do I need?’ I feel like when you have so many things in your house it’s hard to see what you want or miss.”
ERL is has been sold at Dover Street Market, SSENSE, and Galeries Lafayette in Paris; and Dover Street Market—a rarity and blessing for any brand—handles all of its production and distribution. “Adrian spoiled us with resources,” Linnetz says. “The most frustrating thing about trying to get ideas out, whether it’s on stage or with a painting or photograph, is having the resources to get it out into the world. Dover Street Market and Adrian have really helped bring our vision to the world as opposed to, ‘How do we change this?’” Joffe, Linnetz adds, has given him a lot of freedom. “Adrian and I talked once during the beginning of the collection and then he didn’t see anything until Paris,” he says. “He was like, ‘Do whatever you want.’ When I went to show him something he was like, ‘Why would I wanna see it? This is your collection. Not mine.’” Starting with Fall/Winter 2020, the brand will also now be available in kids’ sizes. “It’s really a brand for a whole family to wear,” says Linnetz. And soon, there will be an ERL fragrance.
Plenty of brands showed during Paris Fashion Week—by showroom appointment, presentations, or fashion shows on the official calendar. But ERL stood out amongst many of the up-and-coming brands we saw. The collection is bright, fun, and laid-back in the spirit of Venice Beach in pastel hues and pops of neon colors—a welcome change from the greys, blacks, and neutrals that dominated many of the Fall/Winter 2020 collections in Paris. “Black isn’t even in my vocabulary,” he says. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on ERL.