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Jeff Dufour | Photo: Courtesy Images | April 30, 2013
Billy Reid’s fashion sensibilities strike a new pose in Georgetown.
Billy Reid’s arrival in Georgetown is a case of impeccable timing. For Washington’s part, we finally get to claim one of Reid’s havens of sophisticated Americana at a time when he’s perhaps the hottest designer in men’s fashion. In addition to being named Menswear Designer of the Year by both GQ and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, he dressed Mumford & Sons for the Grammys, and Daniel Craig himself requested a Reid peacoat to wear in Skyfall.
For Reid’s part, after a four-year odyssey to find the right space in DC, he’s hard-pressed to find a market that’s more receptive to his styles.
Reid’s DC-based fans have been loyal online customers of his for years, and, thus the city has “been on our list for quite some time,” says Reid from his headquarters, an early 20th century bookshop in Florence, Ala. But more than that, he just had “a gut feel” about the market. Despite DC’s reputation for conservative attire, he says, the city’s men “are looking for something new. Our clothing starts from something very classically American, and we make it new via fit or fabric.”
Indeed, in many ways, Reid may be the ideal designer for this moment in DC—in how he bridges stylistic divides. His shops display enough oxford and linen cloth to outfit a Gold Cup tailgate party, yet enough distressed leather and tweed vests to supply the entire hipster bartending population of 14th Street.
But whatever you call the brand—refined casual, elegantly comfortable—just don’t call it Southern. “We don’t design for Southern people or with the South in mind,” Reid says. “We design clothes that can work in DC, New Orleans, Paris.”
But the new store? The interior is undeniably Southern, with the same apothecary cabinets, hunting-themed art and well-worn fixtures as his previous shops. And what’s more, the size and layout of the multilevel space will have elements dear to Reid’s heart: an on-site tailoring shop for made-to-measure clothing and a dedicated space for music and entertainment.
An avowed music aficionado (he curates musical bills at South by Southwest, and he puts on an annual festival in Florence featuring acts such as the ascendant Alabama Shakes), he says the store’s basement, with its concrete walls and natural seating, is an ideal venue for shows.
“We’ve been able to make a lot of friends in the music business,” he says. “Most started out as customers, and we took it from there.” And with all of DC’s new venues, many of those artists will be coming to town.
“It’s a perfect spot. We plan on really having fun with it.”