If you ask the Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon, there’s nothing the American South doesn’t have: historic cities, a rich music culture, unbeatable food, and people, she says, who are always cheerful and greet one another with a hug and a smile.
She should know.
Though she lives in Los Angeles, Ms. Witherspoon, 40, was born in New Orleans and raised in Nashville. She is so attached to her roots that she bought a house in Nashville a few years ago and a year ago started a fashion, accessory and home goods line, Draper James, that’s inspired by the region (lots of colors and lots of prints). She named it after her grandmother Dorothea Draper and grandfather William James Witherspoon.
Because the brand has its flagship store in Nashville and many of the goods for it are produced in Southern cities — the jeans in Blue Ridge, Ga., and the stationery in Raleigh, N.C. — the venture has Ms. Witherspoon visiting the area at least once a month. She reflects on why she thinks the South, a place she still calls home, is an appealing travel destination.
Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with her.
Q. Nashville is where you grew up and a city you now have a home in. What are your go-to spots there?
A. There’s an area called Charlotte Pike with great thrift stores. I grew up shopping in them and still go back, but my new go-to for shopping is an up-and-coming part of town called 12 South. That’s where Draper James is located along with many cool stores like Emerson Grace, a boutique selling great clothes from lots of different brands. And I like going to Broadway, which is the heart of the city’s music scene. There’s record stores like Ernest Tubb and bars to hear country music like the Stage, Tootsies and Robert’s Western World. I also head to Pinewood Social. They have a pool and bowling alley and also serve the best fried chicken and fried broccoli.
Where do you like to eat in Nashville?
Jonathan Waxman’s restaurant, Adele’s, has amazing kale salad, roasted chicken and spaghetti.
Hattie B’s is known for the hot chicken. The chicken is coated in some sort of spice before it’s fried. They always have a line out the door. For barbecue like ribs and brisket, it’s Edley’s. The fried okra there reminds me of my grandmother because that’s a dish she used to make every Sunday.
What other cities do you enjoy visiting?
Charleston is a favorite. It’s beautifully preserved. King Street there has great shopping, and the food all over the city is insane — you’ll find spicy fish and shrimp and grits. The best part is that the beach is only around 15 minutes from downtown.
Working on Draper James has taken you to different cities in the South. What discoveries have you made?
Blue Ridge in Georgia, where the Draper James jeans are made, is a quaint old mining town that’s worth seeing. There’s a train that still runs through it, and the old bank is now a cute coffee shop, L&L Beanery.
And although I had been to Atlanta before, I’ve made some new discoveries there like Ann Mashburn, a store with the most stylish clothes. Ann’s husband, Sid Mashburn, has his own store in the back of hers where he makes custom shirts for men, and you get a true Southern gentleman experience. I’ve found some nice restaurants like JCT Kitchen, which has yummy cocktails and cheese sandwiches, and the Optimist, where the seafood is fresh and there is a mini golf course outside. Also, a great to-go spot is Yeah! Burger, where you can get many kinds of burgers along with tasty sides like crispy brussels sprouts.
May 19, 2016 • Category: Draper James, Pacific Standard •
Comments Off on Inside Reese Witherspoon’s Style Empire: The Totes That Make Her Hug Strangers, Being a Boss, and More
Inside Reese Witherspoon’s Style Empire: The Totes That Make Her Hug Strangers, Being a Boss, and More
Not many people get to celebrate two birthdays in one year, but our reigning Best Dressed Woman, Reese Witherspoon not only turned 40 in March, but her fashion and lifestyle brand Draper James celebrated one year in business on May 5. And the star and her team haven’t slowed down since the launch. “We’re just always working, working, working,” Witherspoon tells PeopleStyle in this week’s issue. “If I’m in L.A., I’m on Skype. If I’m in New York, I’m at the offices. When I’m in Nashville, I’m at the store. It’s busy, but it’s so great. You make mistakes, and then you correct yourself.”
Since in getting into fashion, she’s learned how to stay in her lane. “It’s important to not be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know how to do that.’ Sometimes an idea doesn’t work. Sometimes things don’t sell when we thought they were going to. But then, we had no idea that we were going to sell 3,000 “Totes Y’all” bags in a year,” she says. “One of the greatest and most exciting things happened when I was on vacation in Florida, and I saw a woman walk down the street with one those bags. I stopped her and hugged her!”
In addition to Draper James, Witherspoon has a production company, Pacific Standard, which she founded in 2012. And there are some similarities between both businesses. “I’ve been working collaboratively with other artists all my life,” she says. “When you’re on movies, you’re talking to writers and directors trying to shape the story and characters. In Draper James meetings, we try to connect a story to a product. We create things that remind us of our southern upbringings and want everything we put out there to bring you joy and be something you’ll have forever.”
She thinks DJ has excelled in a few areas. “Anything that had a southern saying on it people really responded to,” she says, “Like the coasters and mugs with sayings on them, and the ‘Tell me something good’ cocktail napkins.” She’s also seeing success with dresses. “I feel like we really nailed a certain silhouette,” she says.
Witherspoon has also nailed the idea that each of her brands should empower women; Draper James works with Girls Inc., and Pacific Standard aims to create more narratives and jobs for women in the film industry. “I definitely think that strength coexists with femininity and [being strong] doesn’t mean you can’t be girlie,” she says. “I’m really trying to help push that within my own industry, and it’s fun! I mean, part of the reason I did Legally Blonde was because I loved the idea of this character who loved to dress up and have her nails done, but she also wanted to be taken seriously and was a really hard worker. I think most women feel that way. Just because you’re a woman in a position of power doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate being a woman.”
I have a fantastic and big update for you today – I’ve added almost 100 scans from Reese’s recent magazine spreads that were missing from our Gallery. This includes full spreads in US Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Women’s Health, reprints in various international magazines, and fashion snippets in People Style Watch issues. Check out the spread in eNews Magazine which has some gorgeous full-page photos from Wild, and People magazine’s celebration of Reese’s birthday in their March 28th issue. We also have scans from the new ‘Most Beautiful’ issue of People magazine, and from the latest issue of Glamour South Africa, which although is a reprint, does have some nice old quotes on various topics.
Reese and Draper James are featured in the new May issue of O – the Oprah Winfrey magazine. In the spread, Reese showcases items from her Draper James line whilst holding a Southern brunch for her friends. Read the article below (courtesy of oprah.com), and find the scans and photoshoot in our Gallery:
Reese Witherspoon Showed Us How to Throw a Classic Southern Party
Another perfect L.A. day made for an outdoor get-together—warm, sunshiny, breeze rippling the backyard pool. But there’s something distinctly un–Bel Air in the air. The smell, for one thing, which is almost like…homemade biscuits. Could there be carbs on the premises? And coming from the speakers—is that Toby Keith, lamenting that if women come a dime a dozen, he ain’t got a penny?
On the patio is the smoking gun: a cauldron of hot-popping fat. A deep fryer must be grounds for a citation here in the land of sea vegetables and hemp milk. Either the apocalypse has come or there’s a Southerner in the house.
Fortunately, it’s the latter. In this case, the Southern girl is Reese Witherspoon, born in New Orleans and raised in Nashville. The actress and producer loves to throw a party, and today there’s a good excuse: She’s celebrating the first anniversary of Draper James, her line of fashion, housewares, and other little touches essential for gracious living. It’s a uniquely Southern combination of tradition (a monogrammed mint julep cup modeled after vintage barware) and humor (a tote bag that says TOTES Y’ALL, which is so popular, it’s sold out twice). “I wanted to make the kinds of things I grew up with and things that would make people happy,” she says. “Southerners don’t take themselves so seriously, and at Draper James, we didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously, either.”
Southern Living magazine have named Reese one of their Innovators Changing the South, saying:
Of course we swooned when we heard that one of our favorite actresses, one who hails from Nashville, was opening a storefront and online store. But when we saw the gorgeous pieces Draper James offers, from charming accessories and dresses to classic choices for Southern decorating, we really fell in love. Even better? Draper James prioritizes made-in-America, made-in-the-South products, and the company is continually working to make the offerings even more authentically Southern.
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