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LAS VEGAS — Kenny Chesney hasn’t worn a tie in over 20 years, and that’s OK with him.
This story first appeared in the September 3, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I haven’t worn a tie since Easter of 1986,” the country music superstar told WWD in an exclusive interview prior to his private concert at the MAGIC show here Tuesday night. “I’m pretty proud of that.”
It’s Chesney’s laid-back personal style that convinced him to finally lend his name to an apparel collection, Blue Chair Bay, which had its debut to retailers at the show here. “We started working on this about three years ago,” he said. “I’m pretty hands on, but I wasn’t in this everyday so I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. When it finally came together, though, it was amazing. It’s really representative of the different parts of my life.”
The collection of men’s casual bottoms, T-shirts, woven shirts and jeans, which takes its name from one of Chesney’s more personal songs, “Old Blue Chair,” was designed to reflect his attitude off-stage.
“I spend a lot of my time in the Virgin Islands when I’m not focused on this,” Chesney said of his music career. “It’s 180-degrees away from this.”
Dressed in khakis and a T-shirt and sipping a Red Bull Light prior to the show, Chesney told a story about a friend from Tortola whose mellow personal style helped shape the Blue Chair Bay collection. “He owns a campground on the beach and we would sit on his porch overlooking the Caribbean talking about life, love and songs.”
The man ventured out of the islands to attend one of Chesney’s concerts in Atlanta three years ago and the singer realized: “That’s the first time I ever saw him in shoes. I thought about him, and me not wearing a tie, and that’s what I wanted this clothing line to represent.”
Chesney said he wanted the offerings to be comfortable and soft and “feel like they were drenched in sun and salt water. And I think we did that.” He added: “I’m 41 and I got out of college in 1990 but I still have a sweatshirt that I had then. I wanted the T-shirts to feel like that. Not slouchy, but with a bit of style. I would wear these clothes in Malibu, East Tennessee, where I’m from, or on my boat in St. John.”
The singer believes Blue Chair Bay, which drew a healthy crowd of retailers to the Airstream trailer it imported to the convention center at MAGIC, will appeal to fans and nonfans alike.
“It was really important that the clothing be separated from the music,” he said. Although the jeans have lyrics from Chesney’s songs on the inside lining, “it’s not necessarily the people who are my fans who will wear these clothes,” he said. “I don’t think the fans are going to show up in uniform. It’s fine if they do, but that’s not the driving factor.”
Chesney said he’s never aspired to have his name associated with an apparel collection, but because Blue Chair Bay captured his “life out of the spotlight,” he signed on.
“I’m very proud of it. It was never a business I thought of getting into, but the entrepreneur in me was looking for a different challenge,” he said. “I don’t get bored with music, but this allows me to use my creativity and go places that I haven’t been before. It’s a way to fuel the fire.”