William “Billy” Reid grew up Amite, Louisiana, just south of the Mississippi line, where, in his grandmother’s onetime home, his mother operated a women’s clothing boutique. He lived his boyhood out of doors, in the company of his father and friends, in the Southeast Louisiana wetlands. To earn walking-around-money, he worked in his mother’s shop learning what eventually would become his trade.
His early academic career (as a P.E. major) included stops at Southeastern Louisiana University and L.S.U. He found his calling at the Art Institute of Dallas where he studied fashion design and merchandising. While there, he began a four-year stint with Saks Fifth Avenue. Starting as a salesman in men’s suits, he was mentored by tailored clothing veterans and rose quickly through the ranks to become, at age 21, one of the youngest executives in the firm.
Next came a six-year hitch with Reebok International. From positions in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston, Billy traveled worldwide to develop and launch the Greg Norman collection. He returned to Dallas in 1995, where he founded his own fashion design and marketing company.
William “Billy” Reid’s first foray into the world of designer fashion was met with rave reviews. Launched in 1998, media observed that William’s Reid’s low-fi Southern-bred luxury defined the collection’s difference.
His diverse client base included, among others, Fruit of the Loom, PGA Tour, Neiman Marcus, Reebok International, and JC Penney.
This immediate success inspired Billy, in 2000, to move his studio to New York and to add a women’s collection to the line. In 2001, William Reid also garnered the prestigious CFDA Perry Ellis Award.
In the spring of 2004, friends approached Billy with the idea to re-launch his collection by way of a new business model: to build a designer brand around his authentic lifestyle and establish retail shops that reflect his upbringing, his personality, his aesthetic. The collaboration married Billy’s creative direction with a group of talented retail entrepreneurs, well versed in finance, merchandise projections, operations, production, and real estate.
Billy Reid, now fully realized, is a collection with roots in a specific Southern past. The collection boasts a sense of place and it is reflective of its creator. Billy Reid is a son of the South, who designs his collection in Florence, Alabama and employs artisan factories in Europe and America to realize his dreams.
In Fall 2008, Billy added a capsule women’s wear collection to complement his core work in men’s clothing and accessories.
Today, Billy works out of his flagship shop and studio, Pickett Place, in Florence. That antebellum home, built in 1833, furnished with Reid family heirlooms, serves as a lodestar for his other boutiques, each furnished in much the same way.
Additional Billy Reid shops include recently opened Bond Street in New York City and King Street in Charleston, SC; along with Southpark in Charlotte, NC; Northpark Center in Dallas, TX; Galleria 1 in Houston, TX.
The Louisiana native has become known for imbibing Southern classics with a cosmopolitan flair. His style—American through and through, but with a distinctly modern edge—translated well to a follow-up women's-wear collection, which featured instantly popular handbags and shoes designed by Reid and his co-designer, Tony Smith.