Woman Of The Week: Tracy Reese

Image: Tracyreese.com

Image: Tracyreese.com

by:  We Rise and Shine

A few years ago, the fashion world was buzzing about a designer who's garments were donned by some notable fashionistas and coveted by Anthropologie customers.  Her classic, comfortable and chic designs may have been new to many,  but Tracy Reese is no stranger to the fashion industry.  Reese's journey began in the early 80s, and her path has been sprinkled with success as well as some valuable lessons in business.

Originally from Detroit Michigan, Reese attended Cass Technical High School, the elite public high school in the Detroit system.  She moved to NYC in 1982 to pursue her education at Parsons School of Design and graduated in 1984 with an accelerated degree.   Shortly after graduating, Reese started working  as an apprentice to the French designer Martine Sitbon in New York City.  After two years on the job, Reese launched her own line with start up funds provided by her father.  At 23 years old, Reese produced two collections, and the line was sold in stores such as Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and Ann Taylor. Though she possessed the energy and drive to run the company, Reese realized that she needed to learn more about business.  In 1989, she was forced to close her business because she could not maintain enough revenue to meet her production costs.  Fortunately, she was able to land a job with Perry Ellis Portfolio thanks to Marc Jacobs, her former schoolmate at Parsons.

In the early 1990s, Reese went on to become the head-designer for a new label called Magaschoni.  Reese had much success in her role and was given her own label “Tracy Reese for Magaschoni." She spent the next few years designing her collections, which had terrific sales at retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, but Reese was still determined to run her own business. 

In 1995, Reese's goal manifested when she struck a deal with The Limited for her own line. That opportunity gave her some of the start-up funds for her new label, Tracy Reese Meridian, a contemporary sportswear line that was launched in the spring of 1996.  Meridian eventually became just "Tracy Reese." They then launched a more informal, free-spirited line aimed at younger customers called Plenty.  By 2002 Reese had opened a corporate showroom, and sales at her company had more than doubled over the previous year to $12 million. In late 2004, Reese's company launched Plenty Home, a line of bedding, curtains, and throws.  The next ear, she launched shoes and accessories.

Clothing and home fashions by Tracy Reese's design lines are carried by retailers such as Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Anthropologie, Modcloth, and Nordstrom.  Her celebrity clients include Ledisi, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sarah Jessica Parker and First Lady Michelle Obama who wore a custom-made Tracy Reese dress for her 2012 DNC Convention speech.