Di Journal

Billy Reid: A Southern Story

Since the New York launch of his collection in 2008, CFDA Award–winning designer Billy Reid has been winning north-of-the-Mason-Dixon-Line converts to his brand’s classic Americana menswear with a countrified twist. Pairing downtown New York inspiration with an aesthetic culled from his Alabama headquarters, Reid’s mastered the art of dressing the modern-day dandy for everything from breakfast at The Smile to an upstate fall wedding.

William “Billy” Reid grew up Amite, Louisiana, just south of the Mississippi line, where, in his grandmother’s onetime home, his mother operated a women’s clothing boutique. The shop influenced his interest and pursuits in design. Reid’s first foray into the world of designer fashion came in 1998 with the launch of William Reid in New York, which dissolved in the post– September 11 recession. With his wife, Jeanne, he moved to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where he supported himself with freelance jobs, including working for Fruit of the Loom and a golf apparel company. It wasn’t until 2004 that the designer espoused a new business model: to create an “authentic” label that revolves around his own lifestyle. Billy Reid (the brand) was born.

His commitment to craftsmanship and hand-tailoring in the USA undoubtedly owes credit to his Southern roots.  By splitting his time between Manhattan and his home base in Muscle Shoals’ sister city, Florence, the location of his studio and flagship store, Reid has been able to consistently mine the land of bourbon and the Blues while sourcing inspiration from the Big Apple’s individuality. “It is those two worlds blending together that is at the heart of the collection,” he attests.

Loyalists know that it’s that unconventionality that’s led to the steady stream of industry accolades—in February 2010 Reid garnered GQ’s “Best New Menswear Designer in America” award, then, in November, he won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize, making him the first person to ever score both trophies in the same year. In 2012, Reid was the recipient of the CFDA’s Menswear Designer of the Year award.

The overwhelming Yankee love for Reid makes sense in a climate of rising demand for real-deal designs that are built to last. “Our customers appreciate a modern and very personal approach to classic American clothing,” says Reid. “We want them to feel that they are buying a ‘favorite piece’ that they can wear often.”

Based on Kristian Laliberte’s article for Gotham Magazine “Billy Reid Designs for the Modern-Day Dandy”.

Posted October 30, 2012

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