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The definition of creative 2.0: Eli Russell Linnetz and his brand ERL

Where the success of Dior's latest guest designer comes from

The definition of creative 2.0: Eli Russell Linnetz and his brand ERL Where the success of Dior's latest guest designer comes from

Until a few months ago, the name Eli Russell Linnetz could tell you everything or nothing. That's because Linnetz is one of those creatures who has long moved behind the scenes of show business and fashion, becoming over time the prototype of the creative 2.0 capable of mastering different disciplines, shaping cults and aesthetics, a trait that makes him similar to Justin Saunders of JJJJound, or more broadly to Virgil Abloh, in terms of the social reach of what he creates. Linnetz's work is the most illustrative representation of the coming together of different types of media and methods of communication, allowing for experimentation through new modes of production, distribution, and exchange. While his work was previously confined to a small niche of experts, in the last period ERL and his funder have found the pop success they have long deserved. Last year, A$AP Rocky had shown up at the Met Gala with a quilt-mantle created by the California designer, raising curiosity about his work enough to lead Guess USA to choose him for a collaboration in the wake of that between Gap and Yeezy. The "consecration," however, came only recently with a guest designer role in the new Dior collection, working together with Kim Jones to further elevate his idea of fashion.

But first things first. Linnetz is the founder of a fashion brand, ERL, but he's much more. The name of his brand, founded only a couple of years ago, began to circulate a few weeks ago, thanks to the video in which Kanye West thanked for the nominations received at the Billboard Awards wearing a two-tone Linnetz sweatshirt. The hunt for the ID of the brand began immediately, but we didn't have to stray far from Kanye's inner circle to find out. Before devoting himself to the creation of his own brand, in fact, Linnetz worked as a stage-, sound-, set designer, photographer, director, producer, collaborated with Kid Cudi, Teyana Taylor, Lady Gaga and Woody Allen, and shot fashion editorials starring Justin and Haily Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Selena Gomez and Grimes

But it's with Kanye West that Linnezt found the highest artistic expression. For Ye, for example, he directed the videos of Famous, an instant classic of contemporary music, an artwork very close to a work of performance art, but also of Fade, the video that launched Teyana Taylor. Linnetz shot the Yeezy Supermoon campaign, that went viral, worked on the design of the stage of the Saint Pablo tour, the one suspended in the air, spectacular, and played a fundamental role in the realization of the Sunday Service. Linnezt was the first to photograph Kim Kardashian after the robbery in Paris, ushering in a photographic style and behind-the-scenes aesthetic that became an integral part of Skims' identity. In short, Linnetz + West = only great results. 

There's a word that Linnetz often uses when recounting how ERL came about: organically. “I always wanted to work in fashion. [...] 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”. The organic nature of the process was undoubtedly facilitated by Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market, who called Linnetz on the occasion of the opening of a new flagship store of the well-known retailer in Los Angeles, the birthplace of the founder of ERL, asking him to design a limited merch for the inauguration. Linnetz accepted, deciding to create a series of hoodies, T-shirts and corduroy jackets in collaboration with Nike and artist Jordan Wolfson. The merch sold out immediately. 

 The city of Los Angeles is an important component in the formation of the brand's identity and storytelling, a place that boasts a relaxed lifestyle, that combines art, fashion, celebrity culture and entertainment. Even more than the huge boulevards bordered by long lines of palm trees are the beaches and the atmosphere of Venice Beach, where Linnetz was born and still lives, the protagonists of ERL's collections. In the construction of his most personal work, Linnetz wanted to go back to his childhood and to his Venice Beach - an oasis for surfers, skaters, creatives - drawing inspiration from 90s Pixar movies, by the skate aesthetics of the time, and by the Santa Monica swimming team. 

The puffer that is part of the brand's FW20 collection, for example, is an aesthetic and graphic summary of the Californian imagery beloved by the designer. "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.

ERL is characterised by a kind of loving nostalgia for those times, which is linked to a certain lightness of spirit and a constant irony, that makes the brand interesting and never pretentious. The shapes and silhouettes remain linear and essential so that the colours can steal the show, giving new interpretations to otherwise mundane items. Although the products appear so "simple", Linnetz's creative process is very particular, almost extreme. When he started working on the latest winter collection, the designer got rid of everything he had in his closet, except for a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. This essentiality acted as a stimulus from which to start creating, asking questions such as "What do I need?", "What colours can't I do without?". 

ERL stands out as the latest artistic expression of a talented voice, that of Linnetz, difficult to classify within delimited fields and specific industries, opening instead to a vision of a fluid fashion, that embraces different disciplines, becoming the spokesperson of contemporary culture. 

The full list of ERL stockists is available here.