Linkin Park singer collaborates with Etnies

4:54 PM Jen Brockwell 0 Comments

Are you a fan of Linkin Park but not Etnies?
If you are, that might change now that Chester Bennington, Linkin Park's lead singer, is helping to design some Etnies shoes. The Lake Forest-based footwear company on Thursday launched some new fall products, partly designed by Bennington, in New York City.

The company hopes its collaboration with the singer will allow Etnies to "reach out and expose the brand to new audiences," said Etnies Girl brand marketing manager Julie Shumaker.

The deal is part of an industry-wide trend. While surf and skate companies for years have engaged in product collaborations with athletes, they now are starting to team up with celebrities, mostly musicians, who help create and market merchandise.

"It's a smart strategy," said Marie Case, managing director of Board-Trac, a marketing company that tracks statistics on the surf and skate business. "They're using celebrities like they use athletes."

Such collaborations can help the companies, in part, because of musicians' connection to new media, such as iPod. "They're… taking advantage of the accessibility that their consumers have to music," Case said.

For Etnies – which has a deal with former skater turned actor Jason Lee, star of the TV show "My Name is Earl" – the arrangement with Bennington marks its first with a mainstream band member.

The Etnies product is called Club Tattoo shoes, named after a tattoo parlor chain co-founded by Bennington. The shoes feature traditional tattoo artwork of dragons and fish.

On Thursday, the singer was slated to host an evening party, dubbed "Le Musee Tattoo." The event, held in the art gallery of the Etnies New York showroom, was to feature the new shoes, tattoo artwork, tattooed models and live tattoo demonstrations. The shoes are expected to be available in stores in June.