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Billy Reid (fashion designer)

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Name  Billy Reid

Role  Fashion designer
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Education  Southeastern Louisiana University
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Billy Reid is an American fashion designer based in Florence, Alabama. His line includes men's, women's, accessories and eyewear. His clothing, self-described as “lived-in luxury,” is known for its classic styles in high quality fabrics with unusual accents and Southern influence. Reid summarizes up his brand's concept as "American luxury built to last."

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Early life and education

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Reid grew up in Amite, Louisiana ( ay-MEET), just south of the Mississippi border. He helped his mother operate a women’s clothing boutique located in his grandmother’s home. Reid's hobbies included outdoor activities in the surrounding Southeast Louisiana wetlands. Originally wanting to become a football coach during his youth, Reid attended Southeastern Louisiana University and then the Art Institute of Dallas to study fashion design and merchandising. While still at the Art Institute, he started working for Saks Fifth Avenue. After his time at Saks, Reid worked for 6 years at Reebok International, travelling across the globe for the first collections of Australian golfer Greg Norman. He later did freelance design for Fruit of the Loom, Neiman Marcus, and J. C. Penney.

Brand

Billy Reid (fashion designer) Michael Williams Pictures Billy Reid Presentation

Reid launched his men's collection under the William Reid label in March 1998; his women's collection launched a few seasons later. When Reid started the business in 1998, it was a one-man operation; he lived in the Garment Center, while a room at the Chelsea Hotel served as an office, studio and showroom. The William Reid brand was focused on wholesale account partnerships rather than directly-owned retail stores; the Fred Segal and Stanley Korshak stores were the main wholesale partners (Stanley Korshak also carries Kiton, Isaia, Brioni, Belvest, Brunello Cucinelli, and Ermenegildo Zegna). Reid received the CFDA Best New Menswear Designer award in 2001. Economic effects arising from the September 11 attacks forced him to close the business in Spring 2002. Reid then moved to Florence, Alabama, his wife's hometown, where she grew up in a household of nine children. Florence is just across the Tennessee River from Muscle Shoals, famous for its recording studio, where The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and others have recorded.

Billy Reid (fashion designer) Billy Reid Designer Fashion Profile of Billy Reid

Reid's post-9/11 business model built up a small namesake chain of shops which reflected his "personality and his aesthetic" - loaded with antiques, family heirlooms and reclaimed architectural materials; they "took on a very personal, warm and hospitable environment." In 2004, Charles Moore, legendary photographer of the Civil Rights Movement, shot the first photos for the brand.

Wholesale still accounts for about half of the brand's revenue. His company headquarters is still in Florence, Alabama in a historic bookstore. Downstairs is his flagship shop and upstairs is his design studio. The brand operates a total of 13 directly-owned stores which have an atmosphere of faded elegance: well-worn chairs and carpets, antique chandeliers, mounted animals, and antique apothecary cabinets. Reid has said: "We're based in Alabama and work in New York; It's the balance of those two worlds that our aesthetic is about." Reid cites Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis as influential American designers, and has named Bill Robinson as "one of [his] biggest influences." Vogue noted the brand's "relaxed charm and rolled-up elegance." In early 2017 Observer magazine called Reid "perhaps the most likable player on the American menswear scene." The Washington Post has described Reid's aesthetic as "worn luxury". and W magazine named it "Southern Gentleman sartorialism".

In the US the brand is sold in Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdales. The brand held a month-long pop-up shop in Culver City, California in summer 2017 inside menswear store Magasin; the popup included Reid's made-to-measure service.

Production

The garments are almost all made in USA and made in Italy, using French, Italian and Japanese fabrics. In May 2012 Billy Reid and Natalie Chanin planted a 7-acre field of organic cotton for use in their clothing lines.

Billy Reid eyewear is designed in collaboration with Eponym's design team, and made in Japan. The Optical collection includes a version of Reid’s signature personal frames made from sustainable buffalo horn. Sunglasses and optical frames have details such as leather, ultra-light titanium nose pads, Italian acetate, and gradient lenses. The eyewear collection was debuted in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Rosenbaum House in August 2017 as part of the annual Billy Reid Shindig.

Reid has stated that his production philosophy is: "to make less things, better things, more special things, more meaningful things."

The Fall/Winter 2017 collection included shirts with Yellowhammer embroidery, and the bird became a de facto symbol of the brand. As the state bird of Alabama, the subspecies of Colaptes auratus is known by the common name "yellowhammer," a term that originated during the American Civil War to describe Confederate soldiers from Alabama. The bird has black and gold striping on its wing that is similar to the Billy Reid Signature Heirloom Ribbon, a black and gold ribbon with a bias stripe.

Clientele

Actor Daniel Craig purchased the Bond Peacoat at the Billy Reid Nashville store while shopping with Kings of Leon, and a few years later wore it in the 2012 film Skyfall; this exposed the brand to a wider audience. The coat was named after Bond Street, the location of the brand's flagship store in New York City. In Spectre, actor Ben Whishaw as Q wore the Billy Reid Astor Coat. Mike Faist, John T. Edge, Ethan Hawke, and Idris Elba are also fans of the brand.

Shindig

Each summer, Reid hosts "a multicultural weekend of fashion, art, food, music & friends" in Alabama called Shindig, which started as an informal gathering of close friends and was held for the 8th year in late summer 2016. That year, attendees included musician Jack White, musician Alison Mosshart of The Kills, model Matthew Mosshart, the band Dawes, Tony Award winning actor Alex Sharp, musician John Paul White and The Watson Twins, jewelry designer Pamela Love, Chef John Besh, Chef John Currence, Master Brewer Roy Milner of Blackberry Farm Brewery, former Bloomingdales men's fashion director Josh Peskowitz, and designer Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin. Shindig #9 was held in Muscle Shoals, Alabama on the weekend of August 25-27, 2017. Guests at Shindig #9 included Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jack White, Ron Gallo, Russ Pollard, Cedric Burnside, Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket, Del McCoury Band, John Currence, and John T. Edge. At Shindig #9, Tesla Motors provided vehicles for Shindig guests to test drive, following Reid's collaboration with Tesla to install an electric car charging station on the campus of University of North Alabama in Florence.

Retail locations

Billy Reid monobrand stores are located in:

  • Atlanta (Buckhead and Westside Provisions)
  • Austin, Texas
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Chicago (Fulton-Randolph Market District)
  • Dallas (Highland Park Village)
  • Florence, Alabama
  • Houston (Westheimer Road)
  • Nashville
  • New York City (Bond Street in the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District, and West Village)
  • New Orleans (Magazine Street)
  • Washington, DC (M Street NW)
  • Multi-brand boutiques that carry the brand include Brigade in Cleveland, Ohio; Tenet in Southampton, New York; DLM Supply Co. in Dallas, Texas; Sy Devore in Studio City, California; Rothman’s in New York; Carriere in Westlake Village, California; Garmany in Red Bank, New Jersey; Rodes in Louisville, Kentucky; Sebastian’s Closet in Dallas, Texas; and Weitzenkorn’s in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

    Collaborations

    Every year the designer produces a limited line of K-Swiss/Billy Reid co-branded sneakers. While all other Billy Reid shoes are Made in Italy, the K-Swiss co-sign sneakers are entirely made in America; they are produced in Batavia, New York in the second-oldest shoe factory in the US. The K-Swiss/Billy Reid co-branded sneakers have been produced since 2011.

    Reid, Derek Lam, Reed Krakoff, Simon Doonan, and other fashion industry experts form the advisory board for the Cadillac/CFDA Retail Lab mentorship program, which provides a $75,000 grant along with business development, marketing, and PR assistance for six up-and-coming designers annually.

    The GunRunner Boutique Hotel in Florence, Alabama has a Billy Reid Suite featuring a ladder and sleeping loft, and is curated with items rotated in and out on a regular basis. As a part of designing the space, Reid personally built the bed for the room.

    Billy Reid hosts an Austin Shindig at SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. In 2015, the brand partnered with Third Man Records for the event, which included shows by Natalie Prass, Steve Gunn, Bully, Laura Marling, Broncho, La Luz, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Gill Landry and Olivia Jean.

    Philanthropy

    Billy Reid is a corporate sponsor of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and the brand produced a capsule collection of T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and chef aprons to promote the member-funded nonprofit organization; 20% of proceeds from the collection benefited the Southern Foodways Alliance.

    Following the catastrophic inland flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, with economic losses estimated at between $70 billion to $200 billion, Reid hosted a warehouse sale at his Austin store and sent all proceeds to members of the Greater Houston restaurant community, and donated all proceeds from a custom created t-shirt to relief efforts.

    Awards and honors

  • 2001 CFDA Best New Menswear Designer (as William Reid)
  • 2009 New York Magazine Best Men's Store in New York
  • 2010 GQ/CFDA Best New Menswear Designer in America Award
  • 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Prize
  • 2012 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year
  • 2017 Observer American Menswear Power List #1
  • Personal life

    Reid is a fan of the New Orleans Saints, and designed a custom black and gold football from Louisiana wild alligator leather for an NFL Super Bowl 50 charity auction. Reid is also a "huge LSU fan" and has "probably listened to or watched every game that's been on in [his] lifetime."

    Reid coaches his son’s baseball team, which in 2016 made it to the Cal Ripken Baseball World Series in Aberdeen, Maryland. Reid designs the uniforms for the team.

    Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve is his favorite bourbon.

    References

    Billy Reid (fashion designer) Wikipedia


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