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Florida Georgia Line's Stylist on How the Duo Is Redefining What Country Looks Like
Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line experienced one of the quickest rises to stardom country music has ever seen. Largely unknown before their 2012 single “Cruise,” the song went on to become the best-selling country digital single of all time, reaching No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 before a remix featuring rapper Nelly pushed it all the way to No. 4.
Since then, FGL has proven they’re here to stay with hits and collaborations featuring everyone from fellow country greats like Tim McGraw to R&B artist Jason Derulo. Along the way, they haven’t just changed how country music sounds -- they’ve changed how it looks, too. Their aesthetic has evolved from simple t-shirt-and-jeans ensembles reminiscent of Kenny Chesney to a designer-heavy wardrobe.
So how did two Southern boys known for being “bro country” become Gucci-loving stars with a fashion following? Florida Georgia Line’s stylist Gina Ketchum gives Billboard the scoop.
How would you describe Brian and Tyler’s style when you started working with them four years ago?
My first job with them was actually the “Cruise” video. I hadn’t heard of them before and the wardrobe budget was nothing. So the guys brought all their own clothes and we just picked the best t-shirts. Who knew that was going to turn out to be the biggest hit in country history? The styling process has evolved a million percent since then, but it was a really fun first day.
What does the styling process look like now as opposed to then?
We text each other every day at this point. I could have a dream, or see something in a store, a magazine, or something that gets sent to my studio. The fun thing about having a relationship like this is that I am constantly on the hunt for them; it’s not a job-by-job basis. If I see something I think one of them will love, I text them, and 9 times out of 10 they’re like, “Ohmygod I love that,” so we get it. Right now we’re loving Gucci and Alexander McQueen. I also search through a lot of vintage stores in places like New York and L.A.
How has their look changed over time?
If you look at their style from the very beginning to now, it seems like a dramatic shift, but it just happened day by day. The video for “Confession” marks a turning point in where the style was shifting and everyone started to notice it, I think.
The shift was largely a matter of them being exposed to what’s out there and being able to afford pieces, or having designers want them in their pieces all of a sudden. Success brings a lot more opportunity in fashion, and we have wholeheartedly embraced it.
FGL is known for incorporating elements of other genres like rap and hip-hop into their music. Do you see that diversity of taste reflected in the way they dress?
The music definitely comes first, and we take our inspiration from that. So yes, there’s definitely a connection between the music and the fashion. We fit the puzzle together with the sound and the look.
They are very individual, of course. Brian’s a little more bohemian and Tyler’s a little more rocker. But we’re not going full-blown in either direction, just giving little hints and flavors. Obviously, the red carpet is much more refined, but we still give it what Tyler likes to call “classy rock-star action.”
Are there any music or fashion icons you all admire?
I might draw inspiration for one outfit from both David Bowie and Merle Haggard. It’s usually more of a vibe than the complete look of one person.
Have you seen them impact the way other country stars or fans dress?
They definitely hold a lot of influence. As far as them starting trends, I remember one point at the Billboard Music Awards where Brian was wearing fringe. People loved it or hated it at the time -- but now, of course, fringe is everywhere.
Do you see their style as unique in the country world, or does it represent a genre-wide shift?
If you look across the board at country, you’ll see every kind of fashion -- from traditional country to very on-trend stuff. But Brian and Tyler stand apart in how they present themselves individually and as a duo. They embrace both vintage and trendy pieces. I love that they’re not married to one or the other, so we can blend four different designers together with a vintage piece or something I’ve customized. They’re both very smart and have their own likes and dislikes. It’s a fun atmosphere that’s very fulfilling for me as a stylist.