Partnerships have served Brian Kelley well over the course of his life.
First, he teamed with his college buddy Tyler Hubbard in 2010 to create Florida Georgia Line, which became one of the most successful duos in country music history. Their single “Cruise” holds the record as the longest number one on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and is the best-selling digital country single of all time.
Now Kelley’s partnering with his wife, Brittney, to expand their fledgling apparel collection, which is called Tribe Kelley.
The line of men’s and women’s casualwear is headquartered in Nashville and manufactured in Los Angeles. The collection began life strictly as an e-commerce play, but on Tuesday night made its wholesale debut with an event at Los Angeles’ trend-setting boutique Ron Robinson.
“I’d been coming to Ron Robinson/Fred Segal for a couple of years now,” Brittney said, “and when we launched the line two years ago, I really wanted to land the store as our first wholesale account, but I never thought we’d be honored enough to have it happen. I’ve been dreaming about this opportunity for years.”
“We’re on the moon,” her husband added. “We’re humbled and inspired by the who’s-who who shop there. We were just in the store and Lana Del Rey came in. It was the coolest thing ever.”
For Ron Robinson’s Karen Meena, vice president of buying and merchandising, there were a few reasons the store signed on to carry the line. “I loved that it’s made in L.A., the aesthetic, the idea of celebrating gender fluidity as select pieces are unisex, and that it’s perfect for our West Coast lifestyle,” she said.
Meena said she became acquainted with Tribe Kelley after meeting Brittney. “She loves shopping at the store and that’s how we met. She loved the choices that were available at Ron Robinson and shared details about her and Brian’s line, Tribe Kelley. I later inquired further about her line and decided to meet to discuss how we could launch the collection in-store as Ron Robinson would be the first brick-and-mortar to carry the brand. It took us a year to talk it out, but here we are today — launching it.”
Brian said he’s been especially happy to watch his wife’s vision come to life. “She works so hard on this,” he said. “I literally have tears in my eyes, this is her baby, her brainchild.”
Interestingly, Brittney’s background is in psychology and marketing, not fashion design, but she always wanted to run her own business. She and Brian married in 2013.
Although the line is more centered around women’s wear with comfy leggings, oversize tops and frayed camo jackets, it also offers an assortment of men’s wear, which Brian is involved in creating. “I give a little advice on the women’s, too,” he said.
And the line is gaining traction. Lil Wayne wore the brand’s camo fray jacket ($240) and pants ($191) during his performance at the Billboard Music Awards on May 21.
Florida Georgia Line also performed with John Legend at the show and their multiplatinum hit “H.O.L.Y.” was named Top Country Song. Brian said he’s happy to “see both worlds come together.”
Brian, who is known to sport clothes from Gucci and other high-end brands during his red-carpet appearances, said he likes to “sprinkle” Tribe Kelley into his wardrobe as well. “I can wear it to get coffee, play a show or go to the beach. It’s really versatile.”
Looking forward, Brittney said the plan is to add a few other wholesale accounts in key markets and to branch out into retail. “We’re going to open our first brick-and-mortar store, the Tribe Kelley Trading Post, in Nashville,” she revealed. The store will be located at 1912 21st Avenue and will open this fall. A second unit, the Tribe Kelley Surf Shack, is in the cards for Florida, she said.
“They will be two really cool retail concepts and something we hope to expand,” she said.
Also coming this fall will be an extension into denim.
Florida Georgia Line is preparing to kick off its Smooth Tour next month with hip-hop star Nelly and country singer Chris Lane and will open its first restaurant and entertainment concept, FGL House, in Nashville’s SoBro district in early summer.