Billy Reid has learned a lot of lessons over the course of his two-decade-plus career as a designer of his own collection. And the most recent one is evident in his spring offering.
“We’ve dramatically downsized the size of the collection,” he said during a Zoom preview from his Alabama studio on Thursday. The decision was made after surveying his customers are realizing that what they wanted from him was a “polished, sophisticated and tailored” collection built on the legacy pieces that have become the hallmark of his line.
“The customer has to be the muse,” he said. “We almost expanded too much and after 22 years, we realize certain things work and we want to build on that.”
In men’s, that translates into signature pieces such as a cotton-linen cardigan in a stained glass pattern over a denim shirt — offered this time in an updated undyed cotton — and shown with a pleated short. A field jacket was offered in washed linen with saddle shoulders and patch pockets that Reid paired with a tailored bottom. He also showed his versatility by offering up a white tuxedo jacket in raw silk over a denim shirt that he showed with a nailhead cotton-linen trouser with side tabs. “Everything can be mixed and matched,” Reid said, adding that he intentionally styled the dressier pieces “to have a more casual vibe.”
Other men’s looks included a crewneck jacquard sweater with a subtle pattern over linen herringbone trousers; a mechanic’s shirt jacket over cropped linen drawstring pants; an exploded plaid shirt in a subdued blue and green palette over solid pleated shorts, and a suede bomber jacket over a knit jacquard camp shirt.
Although women’s wear only represents 20 percent of the line and is only sold at Reid’s 12 retail stores, it “continues to rise” as a percent of total, he said.
For the spring women’s offering, Reid focused on two of the brand’s best-selling categories: statement outerwear and dresses. He offered versatility through spring layers — a linen cotton jacquard double-breasted jacket with slight raglan sleeves and a suede duster or coated cotton colorblocked “combo trench.” Dresses offered a leisure spirit through zero waste, fringed cotton caftan as well as wrapped and shirtdresses. Polished tailoring, too, was a “loud and clear” request from customers, he said, making its way into the collection a la a sunset orange double-breasted, slightly boxy suit.
The entire collection was inspired by the four years Reid spent in Los Angeles as a young man working for Reebok before he started his own line. The California vibe was evident in the subdued color palette as well as some of the patterns and textures that speak to the laid-back lifestyle of the West Coast.
This fall, Reid is also introducing women’s denim to his offering. Coronavirus caused a bit of a delay to the production, but the line is expected to hit Reid’s stores within the next couple of weeks. There will be skinny jeans in stretch five-pocket silhouette in rinsed, tinted stone or black over-dye finishes that will retail for $245, as well as denim jackets ($295) and overshirts, a signature of the men’s line since 2004, for $195. All are made in the U.S.
Reid said that going forward, he plans to continue to produce small collections. “It feels better to make less, but more important, pieces and spread them out,” he said, adding that the fashion industry not only produces too much but also needs to offer customers what they want when they want it, such as outerwear in October and swimwear in April. “Somehow, we have to self-correct,” he said.