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January 30, 2012

Southern Sartorialist

Designer Billy Reid’s Atlanta Store Now Open!

By Nancy Staab

  • Billy Reid portrait by McGuire Steele

Billy Reid, the CFDA-winner, whose designs smoothly limn the boundary between Southern gent and New York cool, just opened a boutique at White Provision in Westside. Here’s an idea of what to expect from this hip haberdasher.

Portrait of designer Billy Reid by McGuire Steele Portrait of designer Billy Reid by McGuire Steele




















Atlanta is buzzing about menswear designer Billy Reid, who opened his salon-style boutique at White Provision in Westside May 31. Here’s a preview, culled from research and Reid’s past interviews in the press, of this Southern sartorialist and what to expect from his crumpled-jacket-and-bourbon-and-brogues aesthetic. If Sid Mashburn represents the avuncular Southern gentleman, then CFDA-winning Billy Reid, as one astute Atlanta observer noted, speaks to his hipster nephew. Read on for Billy’s style icons, iPod playlist, his take on the Dixie dandy and his bourbon slushy recipe. Also of note: Billy Reid has been nominated for yet another CFDA Award for 2012 for Menswear Designer of the Year. Another reason he's so cool: he designed custom t-shirts for several bands featured at Austin's famed South by Southwest music showcase. 


Reid on his eponymous fashion label:

“The collection is all about American clothing. It blends deep Southern roots with a downtown vibe.”


The Billy Reid Look: 

Deconstructed Southern Gentleman or a contemporary twist on traditional haberdashery. Reid’s line has been described as “whiskey-soaked” and “elegantly disheveled.” The words “heritage” and “authentic” are often used by Reid, himself, to describe his brand.

Looks by Billy Reid Looks by Billy Reid











Most Important Items in a Man’s Wardrobe According to Reid:

“Handmade boots and a handmade jacket or men's suit. You will have them forever if they're made well.”


Reid’s Style Icons:

William Faulkner, Gram Parsons, Jim Morrison, Johnny Cash, Justin Townes Earle, Jack White, and Kris Kristofferson.”


“We’re in a period where the younger generation is looking for a sort of a heritage. Guys are looking for something that has a traditional root. What Billy does so well is play into those traditional aspects: tweeds, wing-tipped shoes, button- down shirts, menswear classics. But he flips the script a little, doing it more romantic, cooler, a little edge, a little garage band-like. It definitely hits a chord with the youth culture now.”

GQ Creative Director Jim Moore on Billy Reid


Reid’s Personal Style

I'm a traditionalist. I like to own things that have longevity, so some of my favorite things to wear are a pair of beat up K-SWISS shoes that I've had forever and a well-tailored navy blazer. I like things that get better with age. Not sure how it started, but it's just a mindset I have always stuck with.”


Reid’s Treasured Possession:

A 1969 Gibson Guitar


Design Awards:

Billy Reid is the the first designer to win the Council of Fashion Designers of America/GQ award for top menswear designer and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award for top emerging designer in the same year---2010. Last fall, as a CFDA winner, Reid was invited to show his collection at Paris Fashion Week


Reid's designs for K-Swiss Reid's designs for K-Swiss

Fashion Collaborations:

Reid has collaborated with J. Crew on a capsule collection, with K-Swiss on a series of Surf and Court sneakers, and after a white-glove study of archival Levi’s from the late 1800’s, Reid was invited to translate the designs to modern times for Levi’s.


Designers Reid Admires:

I got to know Robert Geller and the guys from Loden Dager through the Fashion Fund. But I also like brands like Carhartt and I am a Levi's junkie.”


The Décor of His Stores:

While no two decors are alike, Reid’s boutiques are famous for their hospitable, old-timey Southern salon ambiance. Think: milk glass bowls filled with candy, empire revival sofas, salvaged woods, 19th-century art and reproduction wallpaper, mounted trophy heads, decanters of bourbon, the smell of hickory and leather and what the Time-Picayune described as a “threadbare, down-on-the-heels elegance.”


Reid's New York store Reid's New York store



















Reid’s Florence, Alabama, HQ:

Reid returned to his wife’s hometown of Florence, AL, to  re-invent his brand post 9/11 and today divides his time between Florence and NYC. The designer resides with wife Jeanne and children Walton, Madeline and Abigail in a 120-year-old house full of vintage china and silverware, salvaged furniture, and crystal pieces inherited from his grandmother. Meanwhile his corporate HQ is charmingly housed inside Pickett Place, the second oldest home in Florence, built by a Civil War General for his wife.


Location of Billy Reid Boutiques:

Florence, Alabama; Bond Street, NYC; Houston and Dallas, Texas;  Nashville, Tennessee; and Charleston, South Carolina.


Childhood Home:

Reid grew up in the small town of Amite, Louisiana, where his mother owned a woman’s boutique.


A decanter of brandy is a trademark of Reid's stores A decanter of brandy is a trademark of Reid's stores

Reid’s Foodie Friends:

Reid is good pals with Southern Foodways Alliance writer John T. Edge (whom he named a shirt after, the John T.) and Oxford, Mississippi Chef John Currence of City Grocery and The Snack Bar.


Reid's Whiskey Bourbon Slush Recipe:

1 liter Buffalo Trace Bourbon, 1 liter Old Fashioned Lemonade, and 1 liter Sweet Tea. Mix and freeze overnight. Place frozen slush in punch bowl and allow to thaw into a nice consistency. Garnish with fresh mint.


Reid’s Hobbies:

Hunting, fishing and rock’n’roll


What’s on Reid’s iPod:

“Everything from The Roots to George Jones, Ghostland Observatory to Iron and Wine, Led Zeppelin to Bobby Womack, to too many. I listen to everything.”


A look from Reid's spring 2012 men's collection A look from Reid's spring 2012 men's collection

Reid on his Spring 2012 Men and Women’s Collection:

 "[It was] Inspired by the revival of the American songwriter, the collection referenced the lost days of the bohemian artists living in Laurel Canyon."

Among the pieces: green linen plaid jackets, double breasted leather jackets, hand-crafted footwear, and for the ladies hippie-chic patchwork prairie skirts—a little less Southern dandy and a little more long-haired, ‘I’m with the band’ this season.




GQ magazine on Reid’s Latest Collection:

A look from Reid's spring 2012 women's collection A look from Reid's spring 2012 women's collection

“Like a neat glass of Alabama whiskey, there's something straightforward, strong, and classic about Billy Reid. This season was a small batch wonder: Tan linen pants, double-breasted bone-colored cotton suits, dazzling pale seersucker, ribbed shorts with saddle shoes, and chambray for days—it was like a garden party for an elegant Southern gentleman. The traditional, muted palettes were offset by the occasional flourish, like a wide-neck tee or an unusual soccer ball-patterned pair of shorts. All in all, a high swing from down South.”


Reid’s Atlanta store:

 A lover of old things with soul, it is fitting that Reid’s Atlanta shop should be housed in a renovated brick flour factory from the early 1900s. Located in the White Provision Building in Westside, the 2,500-square-foot space, located just below Abattoir, houses a men’s and women’s collection.  And if we know Billy, and we think we do, you can expect a sip of his trademark bourbon when you enter the store!


Bily Reid Atlanta, 1170 Howell Mill Road. For more information visit