Usher is slowly building a lifestyle brand


NEW YORK (AP) — Usher knows his stuff when it comes to fashion.

The R&B singer describes his style as “flashy classy” and he is known for seamlessly moving between three-piece banker suits and leather jackets. He admires edgier designers such as Rick Owens, Marc Jacobs and Kris Van Assche.

Usher has enough business savvy to say it’s not the right time for him to launch his own label, but he is in New York to promote his new fragrance, Usher VIP, a follow-up to Usher He, which ranked in the top 40 of men’s prestige fragrance sales this year, according to market data researcher NPD.

This is all moonlighting for him, though. Musically, Usher had the No. 3 hip-hop song according to Nielsen/BDS with “Papers.”

On this day Usher is in a luxurious hotel suite wearing a long blue cardigan sweater, dark jeans and black leather boots to answer fashion questions from The Associated Press:

—AP: What’s the most important element of your look?

Usher: It’s about how you feel, not about ‘fashion.’ It’s about healthy living, the combination of foods you eat. … Those ancillaries are what lead you to ‘fashion.’ Fashion can be a beautiful scarf, soft cashmere sweater or cool boots.

—AP: Where do you find inspiration for your style?

Usher: My taste develops the more I’m introduced to things, the more I travel and experience different lifestyles. I always go out and embrace where I am — I don’t stay locked up in a hotel room. I am an eclectic spectator.

—AP: Why isn’t there an Usher fashion label yet?

Usher: I’m building a lifestyle brand and I’m not rushing to do clothes. I feel like I’m speaking to my customer now with the fragrances, and, in this economy and with my style and attention to detail, my clothes won’t come cheap. It’s not the right time.

—AP: What did you wear when you sang at President Obama’s holiday concert earlier this month?

Usher: I worked with the president’s tailor. I wanted an edge but be appropriate and I wanted to be warm. The scarf I wore was attached to the jacket, which was cashmere and had waxed silver thread. I wore a slim pant that was dressy and well tailored — and I’m in good shape now so I didn’t mind showing off a little. I wore black boots that were like spats with French buttons by Dsquared2. … It was all new for the president.

—AP: What’s with the beard?

Usher: It keeps me warm.