Studio Visit: Billy Reid

We stopped by the CFDA award–winning designer's work space to discuss why his mom is his role model, how flunking out of college inadvertently led to the best career decisions of his life, and how he creates new garments and accessories with timeless, ageless appeal.

There's just something about Billy. The designer—who splits his time between his home in Alabama and his showroom and studio in New York City—is arguably one of the most charming and genuinely likable men in the industry. Not surprisingly, the aesthetic of Reid's 10 U.S. stores echo his warm, easygoing spirit as well. Where else can you pick up a "Make Cornbread, Not War" baseball cap, shop to the sounds of Reid's musical friends (like Alabama Shakes and The Civil Wars), and gun a shot of bourbon?

But above all, the common thread through Reid's classic, yet luxurious pieces—like the cashmere suits, calfhair peacoats, and velvet pants he sent down the Fall 2014 runway—is versatility and wearability. "I want whatever men buy from me to be their favorite piece," says Reid. "They'll buy that coat and want to wear it every day and break it in, almost like a piece of furniture."

Click "enlarge" to view the slideshow of our tour and interview with Reid.

—Katie Chang is a writer and shopkeeper based in Brooklyn. Follow her at @katieshewrote.

I actually started school as a P.E. [physical education] major. I wanted to coach football and baseball, but I flunked out. It's pretty hard to flunk out as a P.E. major, but I managed to do it. That's when my parents stepped in and said, "Hey, you need to get out of here." So I moved to Dallas and started going to a small arts school. I was in fashion at that point and also working at Saks. That was the start of things. I eventually started my label in 1998 as William Reid.

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