Billy Reid (born June 13, 1964) 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” and “broken-in luxury”, is known for its classic styles in high quality fabrics with unusual accents and Southern influence. Reid summarizes his brand’s concept as “American luxury built to last.” Billy Reid, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, and Michael Kors are the only fashion designers who have won 3 or more CFDA Awards.
Reid grew up in Amite, Louisiana (/eɪˈmiːt/ ay-MEET), just south of the Mississippi border. He helped his mother operate a women’s clothing boutique located in his grandmother’s home which stocked then-new brands including Gloria Vanderbilt and Calvin Klein. Reid’s hobbies included outdoor activities in the surrounding Southeast Louisiana wetlands. Reid’s first job was at family friend Joe Buddy Anderson’s menswear store The Royal Oak in Hammond, Louisiana. Originally wanting to become a football coach during his youth, Reid attended Southeastern Louisiana University and then transferred to the Art Institute of Dallas to study fashion design and merchandising. While studying full-time at the Art Institute of Dallas, he worked full-time for Saks Fifth Avenue in men’s tailored clothes and sportswear, opening the Polo Ralph Lauren shop-in-shop. After graduating, a stockbroker friend convinced a 23-year-old Reid to join him in moving to California to pursue acting. Reid abandoned the Hollywood dream after three days and instead worked for six years at Reebok International at the beginning of the brand’s introduction of clothing, first selling in a five-state territory and then working in design in New York City for the brand’s presence in Foot Locker. Reid moved to Boston and travelled across the globe for the first collections of Australian golfer Greg Norman. After moving to Texas with his future wife, he later did freelance design for Fruit of the Loom, Neiman Marcus, Takashimaya, and J. C. Penney.
Reid originally launched his men’s collection under the William Reid label in March 1998. When Reid started the business in 1998, it was a one-man operation; he lived in the Garment Center, while a room at the Hotel Chelsea 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. The brand held a successful runway show on September 10, 2001, but economic effects arising from the September 11 attacks forced him to close the business. Reid was “shell-shocked” and with his wife moved in with his in-laws in Florence, Alabama, 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. At the 2010 census, the population of Muscle Shoals was 13,146. The estimated population in 2015 was 13,706.
In the initial aftermath of 9/11, Reid reached out to Reebok, TaylorMade and other contacts to find freelance design work to make ends meet for his wife and young children. After the economy improved, 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. The first Billy Reid stores opened in 2004 in Dallas and Houston showing menswear only; the women’s collection started in 2007. Wholesale distribution began in 2009. Wholesale still accounts for about half of the brand’s revenue. The company headquarters is in Florence, Alabama in a historic bookstore. Downstairs is his flagship shop and upstairs is his design studio. The brand operates 12 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, The 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”. Vogue described the Fall 2018 collection as “country luxury.”
In early 2018, Mark Daley became the CEO, joining the brand from Smythson. In 2019 The New York Times described the brand as “at once classic and urbane, while still rugged, coarse and unafraid of hard work.”