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But Will it Play in Alabama

Billy Reid is having a good year.

After winning GQ’s nod for best menswear designer in America—and putting together a handsome Levi’s collab in the bargain—last night saw him named as the winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, cementing his status as the most exciting thing happening in menswear.

Naturally, we’ve got a few ideas as to why…

Billy Reid's always seemed to be playing his own game, pleasantly out of step with the rest of the scene. Aside from a vaguely Americana-friendly vibe, it’s hard to fit him into a particular trend or movement. And aside from the occasional tennis sweater, the rest of the fashion world hasn’t been terribly well equipped to follow in his footsteps.

And there’s a good reason: Reid’s southern roots are anything but metaphorical. He was plying his trade through the south—Dallas, Houston and Florence, Alabama—for years before he made his well-publicized return to New York. Even now, if a checked three-piece suit plays in New York but not Nashville or Charleston, it’s a very real problem, which means Reid has to represent the South by necessity. Authenticity is baked right into the business model.

That’s a rare setup for a label—especially one that’s being feted by the CFDA—but it’s produced pretty fantastic clothes. As it turns out, there are upscale, sophisticated niches outside of the coasts…and there’s good style to be made just about anywhere. As long as it comes to Manhattan eventually, we won’t complain.