when j and i wandered into billy reid’s recently, just looking for somewhere cool to hang out for a few minutes, we were very pleasantly surprised with all this completely unexpected hospitality. we were offered drinks with ice. j was ushered gently downstairs to try on some clothes, and i was free to roam through the store on my own. not the usual fancy manhattan shop treatment.
although i had never heard of billy reid before, i soon learned it was part of a southern-based mini chain (six other stores in the south) which then made sense with all the very encouraged friendliness — and no i’m not complaining about that. before i get to the clothes, though, i really just loved the store’s lived-in design which was clearly very carefully put together using lots of reclaimed materials. with a mix of dark wood (the display cabinets came from a dry goods store in montgomery, alabama), oil paintings, beautiful mirrors and lots of great light both upstairs and downstairs, the place was a very comfortable place to browse.
the southerner behind the store, billy reid who is from and still lives in alabama, is on his second tour through new york. after winning an award as the best new menswear designer in 2001, he started production right around september 11th, and when that didn’t go well given the timing, he moved back to alabama to retool and started opening up the other stores which have been very well received. when we visited, i loved the gorgeous colors billy reid used in the women’s collection (that blue checked shirt above was fantastic). in general, however, the women’s clothing was maybe not at the top of its game (this was in june) so i feel it’s a bit unfair to say i didn’t like it as it seemed in transition, but i will come back to check out what billy reid has in the fall. some of the jackets did look super cute, as did the dresses, and i am guessing that this is a place where it really makes sense to try things on.
billy reid’s menswear had lots of very appealing low key but attractive options. for some reason, the few shirts that j was willing to try on (he had already been shopping a bit too long so he was at the end of his shopping window) were way too short — so it seems maybe this is a better place for those on the smaller side. in all, i really liked the designs, the fabrics and the colors, and the price point was good too. men’s shirts ran at around $145 or so and when on sale they could be marked down to half of that. in addition to casual pants and shirts, billy reid also carries great shoes and boots (handmade in italy), ties, bags, denim and suits. so with the reasonable price point, billy reid is a place to come by every now and then, and not just for the drink. billy reid, 54 bond street at bowery, manhattan, new york, 212.598.9355.