ERL’s Levi’s® Collaboration Is a Love Letter to Venice Beach
Hypebeast caught up with Eli Russell Linnetz to discuss his latest heavyweight collaboration, which sees the designer continue to live out his California dreams.
It’s not the effortless styling or laidback attitude that makes Eli Russell Linnetz’s clothing stand out from the crowd. The ERL designer’s footloose fabrications and low-pressure perspective is channeled into everything he creates, with his Venice Beach vernacular paired with sophisticated sartorial tropes that have built up its presence with a high fashion audience.
Making his Pitti Uomo 104 debut earlier this summer, Linnetz wants to take ERL to the moon while keeping his Californian identity at the forefront. In Spring 2022, ERL broke new ground by uniting with Dior’s menswear division for its first-ever collaborative runway show.
The duo’s “California Couture” collection combined Kim Jones’ refined output with Linnetz’s effervescent personality, marking a historic occasion that fused French refinement and Los Angeles’ breeziness. Linnetz’s new collaboration with Levi’s® is a reflection of ERL’s ever-evolving identity, blending the duo’s shared love of Golden State skate and surf culture with 150 years of denim heritage.
Linnetz has been making strides forward since 2018, launching his eponymous label with a sharp eye for playful menswear. ERL is grounded in nostalgic references while looking to the future, with upgraded takes on classic Americana styles. Levi’s® celebrates its 150th denim anniversary in 2023, honoring its San Fransisco roots with community-led initiatives and culture-defining collaborations. Throughout the year, Levi’s® has tapped Los Angeles’ Born X Raised, Italian retailer Slam Jam, and Marcelo Burlon County of Milan to reinvent its denim offerings.
Eli Russell Linnetz‘s ERL is up next, and it’s a natural fit – crafting a casual collection made for unapologetic skaters from the Los Angeles area. “Being from California, I have always had such a strong connection with Levi’s® and its heritage. It was super important for me to keep the California energy authentic to both ERL and Levi’s®. The collection has a very grunge, casual, skater energy to it. It’s still identifiable and has its own clear voice and signature,” says Linnetz. The collection is pure ‘90s, dominated by colossal silhouettes and shredded underpinnings aged to perfection. The cool essence of California can be seen from a mile away, endured across several denim bottoms with a mind of their own.
When designing the collection, Linnetz maintained a casual approach that can be worn at the skatepark, out with friends, or while strolling along the Venice Boardwalk. “It’s really easy to throw on. The washes and the light-faded blue jeans are reminiscent of when I was growing up, seeing these jeans in flea markets and second-hand stores. Besides reworking the Levi’s 501®, which is such an iconic part of American culture and California in particular, we were able to create all-new silhouettes and represent different parts of America — but mainly focus on shapes that are from Venice Beach and constitute a casual, laidback, and distressed kind of vibe.”
The collection reimagines several Levi’s® styles with wide outlines, sliced waistlines, and ripped knees, acting as a time machine to the early ‘90s. Split-leg models define the Levi’s® x ERL 501®, twisting classic denim shapes with divided profiles. The Low Rise Flare structures the thighs while going broad below the knees.
Levi’s® and ERL embrace the summer jorts trend by bringing it back to the era where it all began, combining bleached denim with a board short silhouette for a distinct throwback feel. The upper half is where the party’s at, presenting classic sherpa-lined trucker jackets, a full-length Duster Trucker, an ERL-embroidered denim shirt, and a voluminous Heritage Dress. The duo returns to college in bright red varsity jackets, while star-studded tees, striped polos, and rebellious flannels complete the range.
“When going through the archives, it was so cool to see how different people through history have worn Levi’s® and personalized their pairs based on who they are, their occupation, and their lifestyle,” explains Linnetz. “There is visible wear and tear in the garments that represent how they live their life.”
Working with the Levi’s® team throughout the design process was also key for Linnetz, “Authenticity is the most important thing to me, so it was paramount for me to go through the archive and really understand the heritage of Levi’s® and how people throughout the years have customized it and made it their own.”
By keeping his design language close, Linnetz continues to step in the right direction. Away from deconstructing denim with Levi’s®, the designer has the world at his feet, with footwear a particular focus going forward. “I was super excited to launch my first-ever shoe collection for ERL this season and build out the story around it. Footwear is a really exciting part of ERL’s future.”
The ERL x Levi’s® collection will land at Levi’s® and international storefronts on September 6.