LOS ANGELES — Bishops firing M-16s. Riot police subduing innocent bystanders. Guitarists striking crucifixion poses under the watchful eye of a vulture.
Welcome to Chester Bennington’s wardrobe.
Bennington, lead singer of the Grammy award–winning band Linkin Park, is launching Ve’cel, a premium men’s T-shirt and hoodie line steeped in political and religious imagery, amped with violence and sexed up with scantily clad ladies. Or, for the gent who prefers something a little more innocuous, the line also features plenty of minimalist, logo-driven pieces—some with only the faintest silhouette of automatic weapons
The line’s holiday 2007 and spring 2008 collection will be unveiled at Project in Las Vegas next month, with outerwear, denim and accessories planned for future seasons.
Ve’cel isn’t the first foray into fashion for Bennington, 31. In 2001, he launched a men’s wear and accessories line for Club Tattoo, a Tempe, Ariz., ink-and-piercing studio that he started in 1995 with former bandmate Sean Dowdell and Dowdell’s wife, Thora. “For Ve’cel, I wanted to bring the tattoo world into something more music-driven … but also something that everyone isn’t wearing,” the lanky-but-tat-heavy Bennington told DNR on the set of Linkin Park’s latest video, “Bleed it Out.” “A lot of people’s designs in this market are just skulls and wings.”
Anchored in a black, white and gray color palette, Bennington’s T-shirt designs feature varying degrees of treatment. Foil metallic prints, antique finishes and potassium sprays, contrast stitching and multiple studs grace the collection’s edgier pieces, which come in 100 percent cotton or 50/50 blends of cotton/polyester. Each is emblazoned with the brand’s slogan, “Aeternum Vale,” Latin for “Farewell Forever.”
Liquid Graphics, an Irvine, Calif.–based company that makes apparel for action-sports brands and rock groups, designed and manufactured the line. Bennington, Liquid Graphics owner Josh Merrell and the Dowdells from Club Tattoo are all partners in the Ve’cel brand.
Bennington said he has no specific plans to cross-promote Ve’cel with Linkin Park, which will be headlining the Projekt Revolution tour later this month. However, he added that he hopes to enlist other musicians touring with Projekt to wear Ve’cel gear, including Korn and The Used.
According to Liquid Graphics merchandiser Matt Tumolo, Ve’cel is geared towards higher-end department stores and boutiques, including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, Metropark and Fred Segal. T’s will retail for $55 to $83, with hoodies and sweatshirts priced around $125.
On Aug. 27, Bennington will personally showcase Ve’cel wares at Project, with a launch party scheduled at Pure nightclub in Las Vegas later that evening. “I really want to show my vision for this line, something that’s cutting edge, something with a great fit, but not always over the top.”
But what’s too over the top for Bennington?
“For me, nothing,” he said. “I’m a rock star. I’ll wear a bloody shirt on stage.”