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Country superstar Kenny Chesney is bringing a tour bus to the MAGIC show in Las Vegas — literally.
This story first appeared in the August 19, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Chesney will showcase the official launch of his new line of men’s and women’s apparel in an Airstream bus that will be on display inside the Las Vegas Convention Center during the trade show at the end of the month.
The collection, Blue Chair Bay, is a denim- and knit-driven lifestyle line that will have a soft launch for holiday in a handful of specialty stores including Levy’s in Nashville, Fast Buck Freddys in Key West, Fla., and Ocean Eddies in Gulf Coast, Ala. The full launch will be for spring.
Chesney, a four-time Entertainer of the Year of both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, also will headline an invitation-only concert at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas during MAGIC.
According to Chesney, “Just like I don’t know fashion, I don’t expect these people to really know who I am, what I do or what I’d like to think my music represents. So, that’s why I’m going to play a very intimate show for a lot of them: bring them in organically to the songs, the stories and give them a sense of who I — and the people who live these songs right along with us — am.”
Blue Chair Bay is being manufactured by Latitude 17 Degrees South, a company that was formed to create the line for Chesney, according to Eric Dickson, sales manager for Blue Chair Bay Apparel. The collection will include woven shirts, khakis, shorts, T-shirts and jeans. Retail price points include T-shirts for $32 to $38, khakis for $68 to $72, shorts for $48 to $55 and woven shirts for $52 to $62.
Chesney’s name and image will not be part of the marketing for the line, but the hangtag will read “Blue Chair Bay: A Kenny Chesney-inspired brand.” The name of the collection comes from the singer’s 2005 album — “Be as You Are: Songs From an Old Blue Chair,” which featured all self-written songs.
“His fan base knows about the old blue chair,” Dickson said.
“We’ve had people approach us in the past,” Chesney said, “but it never seemed like something I’d wear. And when these folks called, I wasn’t sure. But the people from what became Blue Chair Bay got the things that are important to me: quality materials that don’t try; that timeless vintage stuff that isn’t right-now, but forever, and colors that look like they’ve been baked by the sun and sea water — clothes you can live in. And they let me be involved with the design, so these clothes aren’t [made by] someone who doesn’t know me and this music.”
Chesney described the collection as something you “could need if you were going to take off for a week in the islands or at the beach…or even just on the road.” The entertainer, who has made vintage Ts, baggy khakis and baseball caps or slouchy cowboy hats a uniform for his fans, added: “These are the things you wear when you’re just being yourself, unplugging with nothing to prove. To me, when you’ve got nowhere to go, nowhere to be — and you want to be comfortable, but still look good.”
Chesney, who is headlining the Sun City Carnival this summer, recently scored his 19th number-one song with “Out Last Night” from his “Greatest Hits II” album. But he’s not the only one on the road: Blue Chair Bay also will be making the rounds after MAGIC. The Airstream will meet Chesney’s tour in Charleston, S.C., on Sept. 12, and then travel throughout the Southeast working with retailers and setting up in-store boutiques.
Chesney said: “To me, when I look out at the crowd every night onstage, I know this is going to make shopping easier…not because it’s me, but because these are clothes I know I have to hunt to find, and now, it’s everything that feels good, wears easy and looks right in one place.”
At the February market in Las Vegas, another country superstar, Toby Keith, launched his TK Steelman line of sportswear for men at his restaurant on The Strip. Keith and Chesney join the legendary George Strait, whose Cowboy-Cut collection for Wrangler has been a top seller for years, and up-and-comer Jason Aldean, who signed on last month to be the spokesmen for the Wrangler Retro label of contemporary jeans.