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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.

Where do you see your strengths as a designer?
I basically started at the bottom. I worked on the sales floor in retail, then as an assistant manager, and then I went to California and later moved to New York and worked in showroom sales. I've worked for small businesses and large businesses, like Reebok. Having seen it from all those different angles has helped me pull the whole package together. It's not just about me drawing a bunch of pretty pictures, it's so much more than that. It's a business where you're learning every single day, so you have to be willing to accept the fact that you won't know everything.

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