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Billy Reid Reflects on 20 Years in Fashion

NEW YORK — Billy Reid could be a case study in resilience.
Since he created the first William Reid collection in March 1998, the soft-spoken Southern designer has experienced more than his share of ups and downs.
The ups: He has built his Southern-flavored Americana designer collection into a successful wholesale business at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom and 13 of his own Billy Reid stores. He’s also won four Council of Fashion Designers of America awards.
The downs: His initial foray into fashion, William Reid, failed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, driving the designer and his family from New York back to his home state of Alabama.
But despite the roller coaster that has defined his career, Reid is happy to be at the helm of a $25 million brand as he prepares to celebrate his 20th anniversary next year.
“Failure? I’ve been there,” Reid said, sitting on a chair in his showroom on Bond Street here. “Losing everything overnight was so humbling, but it makes you realize what’s important to you and that you can recover.”
Reid’s story begins in the small town of Amite, La., where his mother owned a women’s boutique called T.J.’s for Her that operated out of

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