Traveling to the small but musical and entrepreneurial town of Florence, Alabama, I wanted to visit the Billy Reid store on Court Street. Having a Billy Reid just open in Georgetown in DC, I wanted to connect the dots and see where it all got started - take in the context of this lesser known town that has been home and headquarters to Billy Reid since 2002.
Billy Reid describes his line as "low-fi, Southern bred luxury," which gives his clothing a well-crafted but accessible quality - almost like the clothes don't take themselves too seriously. When you enter his stores, you realize there is more to being a Southern belle or gentleman than just the threads on your back or the leather on your shoulder. It's a lifestyle, a pace of life - influenced by relationships, values, music, travel, history, etc.
Each store carries on a storied aesthetic of reclaimed architectural pieces, rich woods, industrial chic elements, and a collection of heirlooms and trinkets that give context to Billy Reid and his influences. Gold-rimmed porcelain plates surrounding a taxidermic antlered deer head; branches of fluffy cotton; jars of grommets and hardware; framed photos of family and travels; and racks made of plumbers pipe and crocheted wire. Displayed throughout the store with antique sofas and chairs, warm lighting fixtures, high ceilings, classic crown moldings - the store creates an inviting atmosphere and gives a glimpse into the eye and intention of Billy Reid.
We were fortunate to chat with the Florence staff and get a tour behind the retail front of house. I was curious to see the design studio upstairs; however, it was currently under construction. Our tour included one of the design areas, stock room, photo studio for web/catalog shoots, and kitchenette where staff can make themselves a drink and gather round the table during breaks.
Personally, I prefer a well-tailored feminine/sensual aesthetic mixed with edgier/eclectic and boho-chic elements but I do have a great appreciation for the authenticity of Billy Reid's palate from clothing design to store design. The classic lines, quality fabrics and leathers, and all too rare nowadays American manufacturing is a wonderful statement that characterizes Southern style.