If you consume most of your fashion news from sites based in New York, you might get a fairly myopic sense of what’s going on: No one wears skinny jeans anymore, wearing sneakers to a party is a style statement, and “athleisure” and “normcore” are perfectly acceptable words to drop during casual conversation. But, there’s a whole color-soaked fashion world outside NYC. You know, places where women actually stood in line for the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collaboration, where “pretty” isn’t a dirty word, and where getting dressed always means getting dressed up. Instead of New York, Paris, and Tokyo, these women look to Nashville, Savannah, and Atlanta for fashion inspiration — and their version of The Olsens may very well be Reese Witherspoon. Known for her sweet, no-frills style that’s stunning without ever being shocking, Reese Witherspoon is embarking on a new lifestyle e-commerce site that celebrates Southern style. “I created Draper James to honor my past and allow others to embrace the beauty, style, and excitement that embodies what is happening in the South today,” Witherspoon said in the official press release. She elaborated further in an email with us: “The South is having a cultural explosion right now. Being a native Southerner, I am so happy to see these entrepreneurs and artists investing in our communities, and I’m so happy to be one of them. It truly is the New South.”
Draper James is named after Witherspoon’s paternal grandparents, William James Witherspoon and Dorothea Draper, whom Witherspoon claims are a constant inspiration for her own approach to personal style: “My grandmother didn’t have a lot of dresses, but she knew how to make the most of any outfit by wearing perfect accessories; her shoes always matched her purse, and she never took off her pearls.” The brand launches today, and will sell artisan-collaboration products including fashion, accessories, and home decor. In this way, it’s similar to Preserve, Blake Lively’s online magazine that also sells products by local artisans. (Lively's brand recently got in trouble for its plantation-set fashion editorial titled “Allure of the Antebellum,” which attempted to showcase the poise of “Southern Belles.”) Witherspoon, too, includes editorials on her own site; she documents an outdoor lunch she hosted in a posted titled “I Love A Luncheon!” and has a section called “Southernism” (which should be eye-opening for anyone who hasn’t spent much time south of the Mason-Dixon line — and utterly pinnable to anyone who has). But, Draper James’ main focus is to sell things of the Southern variety, and that means a ton of monograms (Witherspoon: “I’ve always said, ‘If it’s not moving, monogram it!’”), magnolia prints, pearl jewelry, and giftables (“Gifts to say hello, gifts to say thank you, gifts to say I’m thinking about you… In the South, we give a lot of gifts. We never stop.”). Judging from how quickly the Lilly Pulitzer Target collaboration sold out in stores and online — and how many of those shoppers took to the Internet to vent, strategize, and celebrate their scores — it seems that Witherspoon will have a ready audience for Draper James.