Cameron Bennerman dominated the basketball court at Grimsley High School, Hargrave Military Academy and N.C. State.
Now, he hopes one day to score on the catwalks of Milan, Paris and New York.
The 24-year-old Greensboro native is putting out a line of T-shirts and trying to launch a fashion business, Likuid ‘N’ Ation .
“I’ve always been interested in fashion, whether it’s having a nice pair of shoes or a nice hat or a nice shirt,” he says. “And in my free time I like to sketch images. And when I was playing in Italy (after graduating from N.C. State), I had the opportunity to go to a few fashion shows and be around Fashion Week there. And when I came home, I thought, ‘Well, let me see if I can do something and put it on a T-shirt.’ ”
The son of Gloria and Rik Bennerman, who run the Masters Grill at Gillespie Golf Course in Greensboro, Cameron Bennerman attended Grimsley for three years, transferring to Hargrave in Chatham, Va., for his senior year.
After graduating in 2002, he went on to play in four NCAA tournaments as a member of N.C. State’s Wolfpack.
He insists that he has no plans to hang up his basketball jersey any time soon and is even shooting hoops in Spain this season.
While playing overseas after college, though, he became what he calls a “clothing connoisseur” and was impressed by how European designers seemed unafraid to take risks.
“They really go out on a limb,” he says. “That’s one thing that I saw in Europe in general — they just like being different. Being different is in a way just being yourself. There’s only one you. I really like that idea.”
When he returned to Greensboro, he picked up the phone book and called as many fashion businesses as he could find to try to familiarize himself with the industry. Sjenevere Shavers, product manager for Greensboro-based clothier Mack and Mack, was among those he consulted.
“I think his future is wide open, but I’d definitely advise Cameron, as I would anyone else, to take a couple of classes so he can really understand how the industry works,” she says. “Cameron, he’s from a different field. And for apparel, it’s tricky. You really need to get your feet wet. The pros of him doing it this way is that he doesn’t come in with a particular mindset. So, he doesn’t have some of the hang-ups and the fears that most people have that get saturated in the industry and then try to do their own thing.”
His T-shirts feature abstract line drawings of his own design — clown faces, robots, drinking glasses — and retail for $35 on his Web site (www.likuidnation.com) . He also sells sweatshirts for $50 and $60 and hopes eventually to develop a line of jeans and hats.
To describe his work, Bennerman uses the phrase “perfectly imperfect.”
“The economy, society, whatever you want to talk about, is not exactly how we would prefer it to be,” he says. “But that’s OK. We can still roll with the punches. Things will get better.”
The design work remains a sideline, but it’s one he hopes will one day loom large in the fashion industry, just not too large.
“I see this going from Greensboro as far as Los Angeles and over to France,” he says. “But everything will be limited because I don’t want everyone, every single store having the clothes. That kind of takes away from the quality.
“But in Greensboro, it always will be available, regardless. I will make sure of that.”
Contact Robert C. Lopez at 691-5091 or firstname.lastname@example.org