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July 31 2014

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billy reid: in manhattan and making womenswear

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Just because you’re a bit of a good ole boy, that doesn’t mean you can’t make good new clothes for girls. That much is proved by Florence, Alabama-based menswear designer Billy Reid, who opens his first-ever New York store on Bond Street tomorrow. The very model of the modern Southern gentleman, Reid is using the occasion of his Manhattan debut to launch a womenswear range he sweetly describes as the “wife” of his men’s line. “I’m making the women’s clothes at the same factories here and in Italy where I produce the menswear,” Reid explains. “And using a lot of the same fabrics, too. But for me, this is less about duplicating the men’s clothes than it is about creating collections that share a sensibility.” And an aesthetic, which in Reid’s case means updating classic landed-gentry style for sharply tailored, urbane girls and boys. The designer’s devotion to the idea of making the old new doesn’t stop at clothes: If you look closely, the Billy Reid boutique itself is a trip back in time, featuring design elements Reid himself culled from shuttered schools, churches, and general stores across the South. “I’m a big fan of salvage, and a total pack rat. I guess I feel like, you leave things lying around for a while, eventually, you dream up some really good way of putting that stuff to use.”

Photo: Courtesy of Billy Reid

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