On a Sunday afternoon, the ERL showroom in the Dover Street Market 3537 space in Paris is buzzing with activity. The sun hasn’t risen in Venice Beach, where Eli Russell Linnetz lives, but the designer’s eyes light up during Zoom calls, giving the impression that he doesn’t need sleep. Linnetz, who is , has built a sizeable business and is a hands-on guy, personally photographing the magazines that go with his collection. He belongs to fashion’s long line of narrative builders, though his clothes have a real-world appeal that other designers of his ilk don’t always have.
His story at ERL this season follows a family who make their fortunes after traversing the Oregon Trail, before falling into dysfunction and deterioration between generations. Linnetz titled the magazine Greed: The American Gold Rush, which opens with “avant-garde chic” prints of drab plaid dresses and red bandanas and ends with a Wall Street scion living in a 2020 housing crisis Wearing a football jersey with a homemade bomb strapped to his chest, he planned his own death.
This is a dystopian view of the American dream, reinforced by an image from the movie Easy Rider – the tagline: “One man goes to find America. And it’s not found anywhere. ’ But the series isn’t quite as dark as the story Linnetz tells with his photos. Despite the “Rent Me” T-shirts, he lightly draped the pessimism of his generation. He’s too fascinated by the major and minor mysteries of American life — from the flag’s stars and stripes to the 70 phenomenon of swapping source prints and ironed-on T-shirts — to be truly negative in his foreground.
Clicking on the image will tell you that this is actually Linnetz’s most optimistic collection to date, and not just because he devoted a chapter to the 2020s, with There were flower girl print parkas and snow pants, and a cotton airbrushed T-shirt that felt like it had been loved for ages. His Wall Street look is also playful, collaging classic menswear plaid with illustrations of surfboards from legendary surfer Gerry Lopez on jackets and coats. The back of the coat was DIYed with one of the 32-odd irons in the lineup. Linnetz cites his time at Dior Men working with Kim Jones to drive tailoring, and says there will be more collaborations in the coming seasons. If America does end up crumbling, future Eli Russell Linnetzes will pick up this coat as a collectible in the making.