Long before Affliction and its clones all over the MMA world used paint splatter and skulls in their designs, Jacob Bannon of Converge was making the dark, sincere art whose style would find its way onto
overpriced high-fashion expensive shirts. Converge is one of Casey’s favorite bands. So it was exciting to read a FIGHT! Magazine feature on Bannon, whose Deathwish Records also sponsors fighters like Dan and Joe Lauzon. We’re thrilled about that because we’ve always thought that bands oughtta sponsor fighters — what a great way to reach an audience, through a walkout song + sponsorship? MMA is a lifestyle, and for most fans of punk rock and hardcore — music is a lifestyle too. We think it’s a perfect marriage and hope to see that trend continue. Along with more streetwear sponsors, I think bands can make a lot of the screen time at a fight.
Now, the skull and blood aesthetic doesn’t really mesh with allelbows.com but Bannon’s art is that, art, while what we see all over MMA apparel are bad rip-offs, but at best, perhaps earnest homages. Bannon’s more open minded about the derivative merchandise than we would be, telling FIGHT!, “Emulation is a form of flattery. It tells me that I am creating imagery that is powerful, and that’s a meaningful thing for me.”
I think perhaps what makes the Affliction (and new Tapout Black Label) aesthetic so disgusting is that it doesn’t come from the same place as the dark music and attitude around bands like Converge. Personal favorite Converge song, “The Saddest Day” is abrasive, violent — the art is organic from such rough roots. However with Affliction’s 70 dollar shirts (Converge sells their band shirts for twelve dollars) and target demographic of nightclub douchebags, it’s hard to accept beefcake wannabes in the same sinister style that to this day I think looks best on wiry hardcore kids. Plus, I’m not sure why a skull would need a top hat, it’s dead! Casey has a black Converge hoodie adorned with two demons across the front and people have asked him what designer makes his sweatshirt, not having idea its a band hoodie.