"Sales of assless chaps are already up more than 300 percent in the first quarter [of 2012]," confirmed Sal Bloomingfield of the United States Assless Chaps Association (USACA). "Frankly it's been more of a specialty item the last few decades, so we couldn't be happier."Assless chaps experienced a renaissance of sorts in the early 1980s when they became popularized by Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth, who wore them during concerts, in music videos, on interviews and, by many accounts, while relaxing around the house.
"Let's face it -- they're just comfortable," said Bloomingfield. "They breathe."
The chaps became a hot item, surpassing Lego Technic and the Care Bears to become the top-selling Christmas gift of 1984. But soon after Roth left the band their popularity plummeted, and many of the assless chaps sold during that period wound up tucked away in people's closets, unworn.
"I remember going to a church mixer in the spring of '85 and looking up to realize I was the only guy wearing assless chaps," recalled Bob Fernstrom, 45, of Great Neck, N.Y. "That was an eye opener," added Fernstrom, who noted he was threatened with arrest on indecent exposure charges unless he went home and changed into parachute pants.
The Van Halen reunion seems to have rekindled interest, however. Jon Zincway, a writer for the Live Daily music website, said he pulled his old assless chaps out of his bottom drawer as soon as it was announced that Roth would return to the band.
"Now this is what Van Halen is all about," said Zincway, who noted that after replacing Roth as lead singer, neither Sammy Hagar nor Gary Cherone ever exposed their butt cheeks on stage.
Zincway said he plans to wear his chaps to work every day throughout the tour, but added, "I just wish they had a pocket" since he needs somewhere to hold his iPhone so he can Tweet the setlist of every concert.