Billy Reid: The Menswear Man

Saks Fifth Avenue welcomes the designer into the fold. Again.
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Menswear is on a bit of an upswing of late. And don’t take it from us (or the men’s fashion mags, for that matter): look no further than the inveterate success of one Billy Reid. Since his surprise win of the 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award (beating boldfacers Joseph Altuzarra, Eddie Borgo and Prabal Gurung, no less), Reid has become one of menswear’s leading lights, all from his home base in tiny Florence, Alabama. Now, as his collection finally arrives at Saks Fifth Avenue, he’s coming back to where it all began.

Saks New York welcomed Reid on Wednesday night as he launched his Spring/Summer 2014 collection accompanied by a Q&A with Esquire Fashion Director Nick Sullivan. Beforehand, the designer chatted with us about the menswear resurgence and what Saks has meant to his career (spoiler: it’s meant a lot).

Menswear seems to matter more than ever right now. Do you agree?
Reid: Totally. There’s been really passionate editorial support throughout menswear recently. In the last five years or so, people are really getting out the information online. All of us in menswear have benefited.

And what does that exposure do?
Reid: Really, it ushers the customer along. The younger generation cares and stays on top of it—they know the brands, they know the designers, and they care about quality. They follow that stuff. People pay attention and thank goodness men pay attention to it now.

Saks Fifth Avenue is kind of where it all began for you, isn’t it?
Reid: I started my career here. I was going to school in Dallas and I got a job at Saks. They put me in men’s suits because I knew a little bit about it. I worked with these guys in their 50s and 60s—veteran menswear, made-to-measure guys.

Sounds like a good education.
Reid: Working at Saks was unbelievable. At that time, Ralph Lauren was starting to get big. Tommy Hilfiger had just started. Armani…Versace…I got to see all of them working at Saks, studying those collections and working with those companies. I learned from some really great people working there. I had no plan going in, but those years at Saks really laid the foundation for a lot of things.

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Home Swede Home

Stockholm-based J.Lindeberg settles in at Saks Fifth Avenue

Picture a room peppered with chiseled Nordic men donning skinny suits and sipping ”neat” Mackyra whiskey, and you’ve envisioned the J. Lindeberg man. Luckily, all were accounted last week as our New York store celebrated the Swedish label’s debut at Saks. Founded in 1996 as a stylish answer to stodgy golfwear, J. Lindeberg has undergone something of an overhaul at the hands of head designer Jessy Heuvelink. Saks Men’s Fashion Director Eric Jennings is totally on-board. “We had five J. Lindeberg windows along Fifth Avenue and received a great response – that says something. We feel strongly about the brand and its future, and they should be proud.” So what exactly is that future? When prompted, Heuvelink makes a sweeping gesture toward his own ensemble:…

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Picture a room peppered with chiseled Nordic men donning skinny suits and sipping ”neat” Mackyra whiskey, and you’ve envisioned the J. Lindeberg man. Luckily, all were accounted last week as our New York store celebrated the Swedish label’s debut at Saks.

Founded in 1996 as a stylish answer to stodgy golfwear, J. Lindeberg has undergone something of an overhaul at the hands of head designer Jessy Heuvelink. Saks Men’s Fashion Director Eric Jennings is totally on-board. “We had five J. Lindeberg windows along Fifth Avenue and received a great response – that says something. We feel strongly about the brand and its future, and they should be proud.”

So what exactly is that future? When prompted, Heuvelink makes a sweeping gesture toward his own ensemble: a rock-n-roll-meets-tailored look, complete with a fitted J. Lindeberg jacket, skinny jeans, spiked smoking slippers and wrist cuffs. In other words, rockstar charisma, with or without a golf club.

Head designer Jessy Heuvelink on…

The future: “I want men to have fashion options, and I want our brand to reflect that; I see us evolving into more chic, streetwear-based designs – like what I am wearing (smiles).”

The difference: “Swedish style is very minimal and clean, but J. Lindeberg is different. We use technical fabrics, which represent our sportswear history, and I feel that our label can be worn by everyone and anyone.”

The style: “Swedish style has always had a very simple and chic philosophy, but recently, we’ve been well-received in the U.S. We’re very excited about that!”


Saks & Woolmark Honor the World’s Best Fabrics

Dormeuil & Fratelli Tallia di Delfino win the Fabric No. 1 award

Oftentimes you know a good fabric when you see—or more likely feel—it, but there’s more to it than that, right? Right. Rather than trust our own judgments on yarns, wefts, twists and dyes, we prefer to trust the experts. To find the true best of the best, Saks Fifth Avenue partnered with the Woolmark Company (a non-profit consortium of wool growers and advocates) to create the Fabric No. 1 award, a prestigious prize that honors the world’s premier textile mills and fabrics for tailored suits and sport coats. This week in our New York store, Saks Senior Vice President of Menswear, Tom Ott, and the Woolmark Company’s Michelle Lee presented the 2013 Fabric No. 1 awards to Britain’s Dormeuil and Italy’s Fratelli Tallia di Delfino. It…

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Oftentimes you know a good fabric when you see—or more likely feel—it, but there’s more to it than that, right? Right. Rather than trust our own judgments on yarns, wefts, twists and dyes, we prefer to trust the experts. To find the true best of the best, Saks Fifth Avenue partnered with the Woolmark Company (a non-profit consortium of wool growers and advocates) to create the Fabric No. 1 award, a prestigious prize that honors the world’s premier textile mills and fabrics for tailored suits and sport coats.

This week in our New York store, Saks Senior Vice President of Menswear, Tom Ott, and the Woolmark Company’s Michelle Lee presented the 2013 Fabric No. 1 awards to Britain’s Dormeuil and Italy’s Fratelli Tallia di Delfino. It was a rigorous competition: “Twenty international brands submitted entries this year,” says Made-to-Measure Director Manyell Akinfe-Reed. “The judges look for the feel, aesthetic, salability, color, fabric content and mill reputation. These winners represent the world’s finest mills in menswear.”

According to Saks Vice President and Men’s Fashion Director Eric Jennings, it’s these types of outstanding fabrics that make the man. “When it comes to quality tailored clothing for men, fabric is a vital part of the equation. The best ones are crafted by fine mills like Dormeuil and Fratelli Tallia di Delfino.” Lucky, then, that both winners will now find a home in Saks’ renowned Made-to-Measure department. Each Fabric No. 1 piece will be identifiable by a custom number and label, marking it as a one-of-a-kind suit or sport coat. And that’s the kind of quality even a novice can appreciate.

Fabric No. 1 Made-to-Measure orders will be available in limited quantities at Saks Fifth Avenue locations in New York, Chevy Chase, Chicago and Phoenix.

 


Color Coordinated, Part III: Sunny Side Up

We round out our color series by going to one of the most visible places. That’s right, your face. While colored frames aren’t for everyone, colored lenses are surprisingly democratic. “A hint of tint in the lenses subtly updates classic frames. They can help a guy see and be seen in a whole new light,” says Eric Jennings, VP and Men’s Fashion Director. Now is the perfect time to upgrade your sunglass game. The same rules of finding the right style to match the shape of your face applies, but getting a pair with colored lenses takes it to a whole other level. A classic wayfarer silhouette suddenly looks fresh when Super by Retrosuperfuture adds lenses that change color depending on the angle. Oliver Peoples modernizes…

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We round out our color series by going to one of the most visible places. That’s right, your face. While colored frames aren’t for everyone, colored lenses are surprisingly democratic. “A hint of tint in the lenses subtly updates classic frames. They can help a guy see and be seen in a whole new light,” says Eric Jennings, VP and Men’s Fashion Director.

Now is the perfect time to upgrade your sunglass game. The same rules of finding the right style to match the shape of your face applies, but getting a pair with colored lenses takes it to a whole other level. A classic wayfarer silhouette suddenly looks fresh when Super by Retrosuperfuture adds lenses that change color depending on the angle. Oliver Peoples modernizes the pair of frames that Gregory Peck’s character wore in To Kill A Mockingbird. New life is breathed into a style that was popularized 50 years ago by recreating them with indigo lenses and setting them in clear acetate frames.

 

MORE:

Still need a few ideas for dad? Visit our Father’s Day Gift Guide.

Color Coordinated, Part II: Wrist Wars

In the second installment of our 3 part series, we bring the focus over to area with very limited real estate: the wrist. Long gone are the days of the ID bracelet. Now there’s a plethora of options to choose from (like these from Miansai). Having a little color peek out from your sleeve or shirt cuff is a subtle way to show a bit of your own flair without having to shout it. Bracelets have an intimate quality to them. Each one can reflect a different part of your personality. Eric Jennings, our VP and Men’s Fashion Director, suggests, “Mixing different materials, items, colors and sizes on the same wrist. The more the merrier!” Feel free to stack a couple to create arm party….

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In the second installment of our 3 part series, we bring the focus over to area with very limited real estate: the wrist. Long gone are the days of the ID bracelet. Now there’s a plethora of options to choose from (like these from Miansai). Having a little color peek out from your sleeve or shirt cuff is a subtle way to show a bit of your own flair without having to shout it. Bracelets have an intimate quality to them. Each one can reflect a different part of your personality.

Eric Jennings, our VP and Men’s Fashion Director, suggests, “Mixing different materials, items, colors and sizes on the same wrist. The more the merrier!” Feel free to stack a couple to create arm party. After all, we shouldn’t take everything so seriously. It’s important to remember to have fun!

 

MORE:

Still need a few ideas for dad? Visit our Father’s Day Gift Guide.