Who would ever dream that an internationally known clothing designer would base his corporate headquarters in Florence, Alabama. For the past four years, Louisiana native William “Billy” Reid operated his design business out of Dallas, Texas, but his flagship store was in located in historic Pickett Place in Florence, Alabama. This spring Reid will bring his entire business enterprise to downtown Florence. In an interview Reid commented that his goal from the beginning was to build his company globally from “right here in the Shoals.”
During the Alabama Adventure Weekend two years ago I attended a Saturday morning brunch held at Pickett Place. Reid and two other Shoals area artists joined with designer Natalie Chanin and the Southern Foodways Alliance to host an entire weekend of visual, intellectual, and gustatory delights—done Southern style.
This spring Reid announced that he will move his global headquarters to Florence, Alabama. He is currently renovating the old Anderson Bookland building on Court Street. Reid said the Bookland building has great character and his intention is “to restore it to his historical glory by exposing its incredible details and raw charm.” The upstairs portion of the building will house Reid’s design studio where he will continue to create his signature collection and provide hand-tailored, made-to-measure clothing by appointment.
In 1995 Reid founded a fashion design and marketing company in Dallas but launched his own design business in 1998. He then moved his store to New York City in 2000 where he opened to rave reviews. However, after the economic slump following 9/11, he became determined to return to his Southern roots. This departure led to a newer, stronger rebirth of his once cherished brand. In 2004, Reid opened his Florence boutique in Pickett Place, and business has been booming ever since. Reid now has six other stores, including a recently opened shop on Bond Street in New York City. Mike Albo of the New York Times rhapsodizes about the store’s opening in February of this year in his article “Dressed to Impress, With a Southern Drawl.” (photo of Billy Reid shop in NYC by Kelly Shimoda)
During a recent trip to New York City, Swampland’s Jim Markel visited Reid’s NoHo boutique. He writes of this experience in “Billy Reid: A Touch of Southern Style in NYC.”
---Penne J. Laubenthal