For a champion of American style, the epicenter of fashion isn’t Manhattan or Los Angeles.Instead, Billy Reid ran his global business from a cabin in Florence, Alabama, where he and his family settled early in the year. pandemic.
From that bucolic setting, Reid oversees a team of 120 that runs 15 stores, a worldwide wholesale operation, and a licensed eyewear line. “We are more organized than when we were three feet apart,” says the 56-year-old.
After 2020 horrible dose—Reid’s entire family fell ill and his stores closed— “things are going pretty well,” says the designer, whose stock on the market consists of workwear-inspired pieces in lush fabrics with touches of luxury. “We’re almost back to pre-Covid levels,” says Reid, who launched his collection in 1998.
Bespoke clothing has seen “a real surge” in recent months, he says, a reaction, perhaps, to sweatpants and leisurewear that seemed ubiquitous during the pandemic. “People are starting to have those bargains and events and they want to buy stuff. It’s nice to see ”.
Reid’s budget also got a boost from a high-profile fan, actor Daniel Craig, who bought Reid’s sleek melton wool pea coat from the designer’s London store ten years ago. When a scene in 2012 Fall of the sky asked for a peacoat, Craig insisted on wearing Reid’s model. “The piece has been in our collection since 2001,” says Reid. “Daniel wore it in a 15 minute scene. And it went viral ”.
The coat is still out of stock and from 2021 There is no time to die gave him another push. “It remains our best-selling piece and it takes months to catch up on back orders,” says Reid. Supply chain problems have plagued other parts of the business as well. “It was a nightmare,” he says. “Everything is a challenge and it is happening at all levels.”
Reid will launch a series of partnerships with the brand in 2022, including home décor, athletics and music projects. “These are all collaborations with great people that I can’t mention yet,” he says.
After Covid forced its cancellation, Reid could also revive his Shindig festival this summer. Since 2009, the Florence event has featured fashion, food, art and artists such as Jack White and Alabama Shakes. “We had a two year hiatus. I hope we will be back “.
Reid shared some of his favorite things with Penta.
The object that represents my personal style is … my glasses. They are the Billy Reid brand, made in Japan, inspired by a pair of American eyeglasses from the 1950s that I bought in a real estate sale across from my house.
The designer that inspires me most is …
Ralph Lauren was the first designer to inspire me. Any American designer would probably answer the same way. When I worked for Saks, I opened Ralph Lauren stores for them in Texas. I became a fanatic. I also have good memories of Ralph. When I met him, he couldn’t have been nicer.
“American fashion” means … taking the world of workwear and sartorial clothing and putting them together. You create a great wardrobe based on this. This is how I built my wardrobe.
The first piece of clothing I sold under my name was … a denim shirt, for [Dallas retailer]
Stanley Korshak, under the William Reid label. I made 36. Then I got [L.A. retailer]
Fred Segal as an account. The following season we had 37 accounts. Then I moved my business to New York and had my first show on September 10, 2001. After all, it fell apart. I returned to Alabama to restore my life and relaunched Billy Reid in 2004. I wanted to design my work around my life, not the other way around. Fortunately, it worked.
Every visitor to Florence should see … [legendary music spot] Muscle banks. Watch the documentary. What happened here, and what still happens, I find one of the best stories in all of music.
The three items that every man must have in his wardrobe are … I am a traditionalist at heart. A navy blazer, the one that fits you, is still the key thing to wear. And a great fit pair of jeans. And a wonderfully fitted Oxford shirt. You can build from these three things.
The biggest fashion mistake men make is … when they don’t wear clothes, but clothes wear them. It’s what happens when men don’t know what fits. The pants are ultra baggy and puddled. The jacket comes to the knee. When we see a man in our stores and we can present him with something that fits, we have him.
The books you will see on my nightstand are … generally design books. So right now, Thornton Dial: Thoughts on paper by Bernard Herman. Dial was a popular artist. hippy by Barry Miles, a great book on design culture. Down to earth: relaxed interior for modern living by Lauren Liess. And Textile designs – Textiles for artists 1940-1976 by Geoffrey Rayner.
The one thing I wish I hadn’t designed is … [laughs] too many to mention. Let’s say bikini top with gar crocodile print.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.