Tracy Reese is an American Fashion designer born in Detroit, Michigan, on February 12, 1964; the daughter of Claud, a manager, and Pat, a dance teacher. Her grandmother was her first fashion icon. She was both ladylike and stylish. Reese’s mother enrolled her and her two sisters in weekend enrichment classes at the city’s museum. Her career direction first emerged when she, her mother, and two sisters would hold sewing contest; whoever finished their outfit first won, the loser bought the fabric. She joked in an interview with Essences “Although I generally won, I still spent every dime I had buying fabric”.
Reese attended Cass Technical High school, a privileged public high school of the arts in the Detroit school system. Cass Tech. had a fashion-design-department, though Reese was not focused on fashion design, she took a couple of classes. She actually felt fashion-design was ”flaky”, and wanted to be an architect or an interior designer. But Reese was encouraged by a fashion teacher to apply for a scholarship to a summer program at Parsons School of design in Ney York City. She won the slot for the scholar program, and loved the experience, school, and city. After graduation from Cass Tech. she attended Parsons full-time for fashion design.
Following her graduation, in 1984, from Parsons Reese received a wonderful job as an apprentice at a small contemporary firm for French designer Martin Sitbon in New York City. Reese was assigned to Sitbon’s Arlequin line. After two years in the industry Reese was still passionate about designing a line that reflected her own style. With funding from her father Claud, she created two collections, both favored by store buyers. The line was sold at stores such as Barney’s New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and Ann Taylor. Reese could not maintain enough revenue to meet production cost, and had to close business in 1989. She recalled in a interview with WWD “I thought I knew everything, but learned quickly that I really didn’t and knew I had to learn more about the business”.
After the close of her business Reese starting working for Perry Ellis, thanks to friend Marc Jacobs, her former schoolmate at Parsons. She enquired more financial experience and mentoring from designer Gordon Henderson Reese. In the early 1990’s Reese became head-designer for a new label called Magaschoni, owned by Magatague (Hong Kong manufacture). After sales reached $4 million in 1991, Magatague executives gave Reese her own line “Tracy Reese for Magaschoni” The line had great sales at high-end retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Reese was still determined to produce her own line and business.
In 1995 Reese and mass retailer the Limited inked a deal for a line. This provided funds for her start-up line “Tracy Reese Meridian”, which launched in the Spring of 1996. With an investor on board the line became just “Tracy Reese”, followed by a more casual line targeted towards younger customers “Plenty”. By 2002 sales had reached $12million. Her collection was shown During New York Fashion week in Bryant Park, were they received rave reviews.
In 2004 the company introduced “Plenty Home” a line of bedding, curtains, and throws. Shoes and accessories were introduced in Fall of 2005.
Reese has established herself as one of the most successful African American women in the fashion industry. Her designs are feminine chic, made for the girly girl. Her signature fabrics are lush patterns from India. She knows what women want to wear.