New York Fashion Week: Men’s wouldn’t be complete without a runway show from one of our favorite Southern gentlemen, Billy Reid. We checked in with the designer to talk music, male models and the real story behind his front row giveaway.
theFashionSpot: New York Fashion Week: Men’s is a historical event.
Billy Reid: It feels great. Once you figure out the logistics of everything — like getting samples made earlier — it all works. We were fortunate that our whole team planned ahead for it.
tFS: Why do you think it’s important to have a separate Men’s Fashion Week?
BR: Right now, in mid-July, we just started our sales appointments. Even when Men’s Fashion Week was in September, we were still having these appointments in July and by Fashion Week, everything was already bought. So, it was strictly for editors at that point. Now, they’re at the same time as Men’s Fashion Week, so it’s good to show the buyers the conceptual direction we’re trying to push. That’s the biggest change.
tFS: It feels calmer than Women’s Fashion Week, don’t you think?
BR: I was just saying that it was too calm! It’s freaking me out a little bit. The whole week has been like that. The men’s editorial community has had a good camaraderie for the past 15 years. Everyone gets along and knows each other. Everyone is trying to get to the same place. That’s what I’ve always loved about the men’s New York editorial community.
tFS: You always have one of the best playlists during Fashion Week. What’s the one band on your soundtrack that everyone should go out and download right now?
BR: I’m all over the place with my music! The guy playing at my show has an album coming out in mid-August. His name is Rayland Baxter. His dad played for Bob Dylan. Rayland is a great guy and a great songwriter.
tFS: Speaking of music, you partnered with Jack White’s Third Man Records earlier this year. Do you guys know each other?
BR: I love Jack. I’ve only met him a couple of times, but we have several mutual friends. He’s very pleasant and I have a lot of respect for him and what he’s done in Nashville. He had a vision and he made it happen. And the community has benefited so much.
tFS: The Billy Reid model has a very distinct look. What do you look for in a male model?
BR: I look for someone interesting with character. The typical model doesn’t work as well for us; I just don’t respond to it as well. So, we try to find people that feel real and that have a story to their face. We end up with guys that some folks may not use. But this season, I wanted our models to feel cleaner. The clothes feel cleaner, so I wanted everything more elegant.
tFS: You’re giving beautiful pillows away at your show! What’s the story behind that?
BR: We’ve always dabbled with residential-inspired fabrics. We start developing some of those things domestically in North Carolina. A lot of those fabrics that we made worked well for the clothes and some didn’t. We had stacks of fabric sitting there and we knew the runway space was kind of blank, so we said, “Let’s make pillows!” That way everyone can take a little piece of home with them.