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Billy Reid: A Touch of Southern Style in NYC

For lack of a better explanation the South is a place where city and rural cordially interact and blend daily.  This makes for a very interesting environment and culture - Billy Reid

Nestled within a construction-filled street in the NoHo area of NYC, Billy Reid has invaded the Big Apple with a real sense of southern flair in his 54 Bond Street location.  We've covered Mr. Reid and his clothing stores here at Swampland before, but for the uninitiated, here's Reid's quick story.

The Louisiana-born Reid had a group of investors and a clothing line based in the fashion mecca of NYC launched under the company name of William Reid before the 9/11 tragedy put that venture under.  Reid regrouped by heading back South to his wife's hometown of Florence, Alabama.  It turns out that this was the best thing that could have happened on his road to creating his current fashion vision.

The quiet town of Florence in north Alabama, part of the overall area known to many as Muscle Shoals, encompasses all kinds of history from Civil War to TVA to Southern Soul.  Reid embraced Florence's history from the get go by putting his intial "corporate hq" inside Pickett Place, the second oldest home in Florence built by a Civil War general for his wife.  Since that time, Billy Reid stores have opened in Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Charleston, and Charlotte.

This past fall, Billy Reid reemerged in NYC following the South's contrarian way of "reverse migration" by going from the rural to the urban, a distinct regional effect we've previously detailed in regards to professional sports.

Billy Reid's NYC boutique makes no concessions to its northern locale.  Instead, it serves as an amazing outpost for anyone looking for a taste of the South in the most non-southern places in America.

As you can see from the photo above, Billy Reid NYC quickly makes anyone from the Footprint feel at home with its exposed brick, its hardwood floors, and oriental rugs.  Billy 

Reid's fashion remains southern through and through, but it is the extra touches that show Reid affectation for both his region and his Florence, AL home.

Underneath the gorgeous wooden clothing rack are pictures of Swampland legends with strong Muscle Shoals ties.  There are pictures of Duane Allman who spent significant formative years as a sessions guitarist in Muscle Shoals at FAME backing up soul luminaries like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett.

Another photo is of Mick Jagger.  People often forget that the Rolling Stones began recording what would become their defining Sticky Fingers record in Muscle Shoals.  The first two songs (Brown Sugar and Wild Horses) were cut in Muscle Shoals.  (That's how Jim Dickinson came to play piano on Wild Horses - a story he recounted for James Calemine in this recent Swampland interview:

[I told Keith Richards 't]his is by no means a complaint, because my whole career is based on that song, why did you not play “Wild Horses”? And Stu said ‘Minor chords—I don’t play minor chords.’ He said, ‘When I play with the lads onstage and a minor chord comes by, I lift me hands (laughs).’ I thought fucking all right because “Wild Horses” starts on a big ole B Minor. Stu wasn’t having any of that…

Also tucked away behind some stylish shirts and trousers is the always fetching image of Bobbie Gentry.  Gentry recorded one of her biggest hits, Fancy, and its accompanying self-title album down in Muscle Shoals with Rick Hall producing.  

(The lovely Ms. Gentry never gets enough credit for the importance of her entire career output.  Expect a Swampland piece on her soon to give her a proper tribute.)

Billy Reid puts his "company" money where his mouth is by turning his NYC location into a loving tribute to the Muscle Shoals beginnings that lie at the root of all his stores.  He even has gone so far as having an iTunes mix set up for anyone who cares to learn more about the depth of Muscle Shoals music history.

With six locations throughout the Swampland Footprint, we hope that our audience won't be a stranger to their nearest Billy Reid store.  We've been privileged to watch this clothing brand grow since its earliest days.

Billy Reid has made a triumphant return to win over the fashionistas of NYC on his own terms.  New York Magazine just named it their Best Men's Store for 2009.  Bravo!

Please visit BillyReid.com to see his entire 2009 line of distinct couture 

(all photos by Susu Day Markel)




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Muscle Shoals,
South Carolina,
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