There are many sides to Dierks Bentley: country music star known for his party anthems, lover of bluegrass, pilot, husband and dad. And now, the 42-year-old singer/songwriter can add fashion collaborator to his résumé.
Flag & Anthem, a men’s wear line created by former Macy’s and Lord & Taylor executives Azod Mohit and Brad Gartman two years ago, is partnering with the singer on a new line of vintage-inspired sportswear that will debut on the company’s web site and at retailers including Buckle, Von Maur and Dillard’s this month. A more-extensive collection will be offered for fall. The line will also make its wholesale debut at the Project show in Las Vegas.
Mohit said once they realized Bentley was a fan of their brand, they flew to Nashville to meet him and immediately “felt a natural synergy between what he represented and our product.” Talks ensued and they decided to work together.
The collection will be called Desert Son and will include vintage-washed T-shirts, raglans, hoodies and trucker hats with original graphics inspired by the singer’s lifestyle. Going forward, additional pieces will be added including button-down shirts and knit tops, jackets and denim.
Bentley, who is originally from Arizona, said he didn’t want his name on the line, but was immediately drawn to the Desert Son moniker since it perfectly described his life.
The shoot for the collection features the singer in the desert of Arizona wearing Desert Son as he strums a guitar in an open-top Jeep, drives around in an off-road vehicle and wanders around the arid landscape.
“I wasn’t seeking out a fashion line, but it made total sense,” he added. “I don’t really need to do something to increase my celebrity status so I only say yes to things if they’re exciting to me. And this feels really authentic to my life as a husband and a dad. And I’m not Garth Brooks, I can’t wear my name on my clothes.”
But the “broken-down flannel shirts and vintage T-shirts are all something I would wear,” he said.
Bentley said since this was his first foray into fashion, he let the Flag & Anthem team take the lead in the design process but also injected his opinions on the pieces. “They were so open to ideas and suggestions,” he said. And they also let his longtime stylist, Annie Psaltiras, be involved.
Like his music, Bentley’s style has also changed significantly since he signed his first record deal in 2003. And he credits Psaltiras with orchestrating that transformation.
“I was tired of wearing suits to red-carpet events and she found me some cooler jackets, pants and vintage Ts,” he said.
In the early days, Bentley said his fashion style was “utilitarian” and reminiscent of Kris Kristofferson’s who sings of grabbing his cleanest dirty shirt in “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”
“Pick it up off the floor and if it passes the smell test, it’s OK,” Bentley said, adding that he leaned toward white T-shirts and Levi’s jeans.
But as his fame rose, he was introduced to a lot more fashion options. Although he put his foot down on some things — “Leather pants? No, I’m not going to do that,” he said — he found himself wearing “jeans I’d never heard of” and Armani button-down shirts.
Then there was his ABAT period — all black, all the time, when he wore J.Lindeberg, James Perse and all this other “black armor.”
Today, he’s more confident in his style, and his career, and is moving back to the comfortable, vintage-inspired wardrobe that he embraced in the beginning. And he’s adding more color. “I’m not doing black anymore,” he said. “I’m wearing plaids and jeans and colors that work together in a coordinated way.”
He said he will wear the Flag & Anthem collection when he heads out on his next tour in May. That 40-city whirlwind, on which he’ll be joined by Brothers Osborne and Lanco, will follow the release of his ninth studio album, “The Mountain,” later this year.
“It’s not that I want to hawk my own brand, but I want to support the guys making it,” Bentley said. “And I like the price points for the fans.” T-shirts will retail for $26, button-downs for $59 to -$69, denim for $69 to $79, jackets for $99 to $129 and knitwear for $39 to $49.
Keeping his fans in his sights is part of what drives Bentley to always push the envelope with his music. While his feel-good singles such as “Drunk on a Plane” and “What the Hell Did I Say,” are fun, tongue-in-cheek songs, he’s also tapped pop singer Elle King for a duet on “Different for Girls,” and has an entire album devoted to bluegrass, “Up on the Ridge.”
He joked: “Yeah, people thought they were coming to a country concert and then we came out with banjos and mandolins.”
But the fans were OK with that. “I love country music and bluegrass and I’ve got to keep trying stuff and not get boxed in,” Bentley said. “This is a business and you’ve got to keep it fresh for fans. If I find a new sound or idea that interests me, I do it and I’m lucky that my fans have let me go there.”
That will be evident on “The Mountain,” which was inspired by the great open spaces in Colorado and will be where Bentley explores themes of self-awareness and spiritual awakenings. The first single, “Woman, Amen,” was written for his wife, Cassidy, and allows fans to see how important she has been in keeping him grounded all these years. They wed in 2005 and have three children.
While “The Mountain” will explore deep subjects, Bentley just can’t help but let his sense of humor show. In the video teaser for the tour he dresses as a shaman and leads the Osborns and the Lanco singers on a hallucination trip. “That was a lot of fun,” he said. “They’re great people and we’re really excited for the tour.”