Grailed Presents: Billy Reid Archive Sale
- Words Gregory Babcock
- Date November 14, 2017
While American menswear—or, even moreso, fashion design—centers around the circles of influence surrounding hubs like New York City or Los Angeles, it takes a particular sort of vision to remove yourself from the cachet of crowded cities and establish a name all on your own. This is especially true when setting up your namesake brand, targeting style-conscious consumers in areas where those men might not seem readily available. For Billy Reid, that’s all in a day’s work.
Since 2004, Reid has centered his label around the town of Florence, Alabama, but delivered aesthetic to places far beyond the Mason-Dixon line. With 13 stores, plenty of stockists worldwide and a bevy of fashion awards culminating with 2012's CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year, he’s continuing to curate and create designs that look timeless and international, without forsaking his own down home southern roots. Providing a distinct take on menswear staples, modern Americana and vintage reproduction, Reid’s shown season after season that not only is his base of operations unique, his aesthetic is as well.
As fans of Reid’s work, we’ve teamed with the label to bring some samples, styles and rare, unreleased pieces to Grailed straight from his archive. Read our exclusive interview with Reid down below and then scoop up some of them limited-edition garments.
To those who might be unfamiliar or those reacquainting themselves your label—Who is the “Billy Reid man” in 2017?
He is a modern renaissance man of many passions with an appreciation for timeless and individual style.
Since your start in 2004 (and even 1998—considering that the 90s have reemerged in the style parlance as of late) how has the business evolved aesthetically and changed—if it all?
The aesthetic evolves slightly, more in regard to tailored vs unconstructed and subtly of shape, but it’s been a fairly consistent effort. When I reflect on the pieces that have made of us successful, many of them are from the early beginnings and still perform.
What inspires you, and your design work? Obviously there’s cues from your Southern history and headquarters in Florence, Alabama—but does it vary from season to season, or is it something that’s steadfast and carries through all of your collections?
Having the unique opportunity to base my studio in Florence, Alabama and also work in New York on a regular basis. These worlds merging, along with our development process that takes place in France, Japan, Italy and places all over America, that gumbo is what influences our perspective.
The general air of menswear has tilted towards the technical and streetwear styles—has that influenced the design choices in your last couple collections?; does it affect how you visualize your customer and who you’re designing for?
It has been a moment for streetwear - anytime there’s an influence you can’t help but subconsciously, or consciously, interpret it in your own way for the customer. Our outerwear and knits seem to have benefited most from the movement. Mostly it comes down to versatility and how to mix those pieces in an individual look.
Noting this casualization of men’s style—In your opinion, what’s the future for the “suited” guy?
Most men still Like to wear a suit on occasion. I don’t see that going away, but we’ve seen it evolve to a softer construction to ease the weight and comfort.
What is your opinion on labels like Supreme (for more entry-level streetwear) and Balenciaga (a luxury brand making overt nods to street styling)?
Whatever works, right? If people respond to it and it makes them happy, then let it be.
Speaking of labels like Supreme, it feels like collaborations are ever-present (and never-ending). How do you decide who to collaborate with, and what do those brand partners say about the message behind Billy Reid?
We look for a natural fit for our collaborations - Keep it real. Whether that’s an existing friendship, or a personal connectivity to the product like we had with Levi’s and our ongoing K-Swiss relationship.
We’re thrilled to have you collaborating on a sale with us at Grailed—but why Grailed? Is there anything you want to show and say specifically to the Grailed userbase with this project?
I think it’s a creative way to let the customer behind the scenes and find something limited edition and personal. It is unique because the customer gets to have exposure to our archive and design samples that generally no one outside of our Florence office would ever see.
Of the pieces involved in this project, what pieces stand out specifically? How do they stand out and why are they memorable?
Each piece has had an existing life, whether they ever made it off the design rack or into production. One of the pieces even has tape marks from where the design team and I were making changes and measurement adjustments. They were an idea and now they have a new home.
At a time when menswear—and fashion in general—feels so focused on being trendy, how do you keep your brand “timeless,” but relevant?
Fashion is no longer regional, you have to be yourself, have a voice that you believe in and sets you apart. I try to build and work from instinct and hopefully that keeps us focused on what we do best and how it fits into today’s world. That’s the easiest way to stay relevant, timeless and on point.
What’s in the future for Billy Reid?
We want to continue building beautiful things that can live with our customers.