Review of the Week: Billy Reid

By George Manley | Dec 12th, 2008

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The Billy Reid brand is all about rugged good taste. When I entered the new Billy Reid store in Manhattan at 54 Bond Street, which opened about 6 weeks ago, I was immediately gripped by the sense of old-fashioned southern charm combined with contemporary styling. Everything in the store, from the wood detailing to the carefully designed apparel, was thoughtfully chosen to convey the strong southern values of Billy Reid himself.

The Billy Reid Collection runs the gamut from hearty sportswear to beautiful formal wear; and the apparel is an incredible value. The new suiting and formal wear introduced this fall, called the Heirloom Collection, offers full-canvas suits for under $1000. One can even buy a bespoke (hand-made) suit for under $2000, which is unheard of, particularly given it is manufactured in the United States. If you are a lover of fine crafted American-made suitings, I encourage you to visit any of the Billy Reid stores to view their ready-to-wear, made-to-measure, and bespoke offerings.

Billy Reid, the 2001 CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) winner for Menswear, has been in the fashion business for many years; however, he is still relatively unknown to everyday men. Billy’s initial ambitions to be a physical education teacher, athletic coach, and later a musician in his native Louisiana, were taken over by his passion for apparel when he began attending the Art Institute of Dallas.

Billy’s career in the fashion-world began at Neimen Marcus, and matured with executive positions at Saks Fifth Avenue, Reebok, Fruit of the Loom, and Greg Norman. Billy debuted his individual approach to fashion with his first eponymous label William Reed in 1997. The William Reed label met with quick success, being offered in fine boutiques all over the U.S. As William Reid orders began mounting, Billy debuted his full line of men’s and women’s apparel down a New York City run-way on September 10th, 2001. The financial windfall that resulted from the horrible events in New York City the following day, September 11th, forced Billy to shutdown the promising William Reid label and close his New York City showroom. Billy and his wife had just had their second child, and they decided to move back to the south, and settled in Alabama.

Today the Billy Reid brand, which launched a few years ago, now has six locations: Alabama, Charleston, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston and New York. Each of these locations are selected for their specific charm and brand appropriateness; for example, the flagship location in Florence, Alabama, is a beautiful antebellum home, which was once owed by a colonel of the confederate army. The new store in Manhattan was originally the Bond Street Reserve. To prove this Jeremie Kittridge, the Billy Reid store designer, took me two floors under ground to the original Reserve gold vault, which still occupies most of the space under Bond Street in front of the store.

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