Combining elements of sprezzatura, ivy league, prep, southern gentleman and modern tailoring, Sid Mashburn has become a fixture in the menswear retail scene, beloved by customers and editors alike. The Atlanta-based haberdashery, which first set up shop back in 2007, not only sells the Sid Mashburn private label collection but also stocks an array of other fine menswear labels from around the globe. Recognized by GQ as one of the magazine's "Ten Most Stylish Men In America", the store's owner has undoubtedly made the shop an extension of his own impeccable tastes. We caught up with Mashburn to talk a bit about his menswear business and extract a couple of style tips.
Dressing in classic menswear is growing in influence right now. Why do you think that is? How are you serving that demand? It's nice when classic style is rediscovered - it never really goes away. It's just not noticed enough. Currently, one of the great catalysts for this is the world of people that are writing & reporting on menswear. Taking care of this increased interest is a great privilege because the (classic) clothes we are offering are clothes that will always be in style - clothes that we liked 10 years ago & clothes we will wear 10 years from now.
You have been setting a standard for style and service that other shops are emulating. What are some of the hallmarks of the Sid Mashburn Experience? How much of your brand DNA is innately Southern? Our hallmarks are really service and a clear point of view. We were trying to create a place to shop that I personally had been looking for and just couldn't find for myself - our attempt at a one-stop shop. Its our combination of the real menswear traditional shops of the 1960's/70's in the US with the great specialty shops in Europe where a man would go from his youth and learn how to dress - these places pretty much disappeared when people started gravitating to malls & mono-brands - I'm guilty too. I have been looking at clothes and things for my whole life and i just wanted a place to put them all together. Just a place for my things and things I loved that other people do really well. Its a bit hifalutin' to call it curating... but we put things together and invite people inside to experience and leave hopefully happier and better dressed.
I am from the South, but I spent half of my life outside of the south so I wouldn't say my brand DNA is so southern. We have as much in common with southern Italy as we do with the southern US - that's a desire to take care of people & to offer them some of the best things we can find. We chose to open the shop in Atlanta because we found it a pretty hopeful, helpful & welcoming place, though we could have opened it just about anywhere.
We read this on your website-- "Our role is to serve... to help men navigate the uncertainty of their wardrobe choices. We are not just offering the perfect suit, socks, or sweater; we are providing a sense of security, confidence and joy in the wearing of them. We want to help men to be properly dressed and properly served... clothed and in their right mind." How do you achieve that? Tell us about your customer service initiatives.
Well, the first thing we do is usually just smile and say hello and offer someone something to drink and some help and really just help them feel welcome. We were trying to make a place where people just wanted to BE. We offer good advice for those who want or need it, and generally try to be helpful. If someone needs a restaurant reservation, a doctor referral, a lawyer.. anything with the confines of the law we just try to come up with a solution. Our tailoring service, which is outstanding, is a huge help and a game changer for us since we feel fit is one of the most important things a man needs when it comes to clothes. It takes things from good to great.
What are some style tips you would offer a young man interested in adopting a classic look? What three items do you think every man should have in his wardrobe?
1.) Well cut, full canvas, natural shoulder,2ply/2ply wool navy jacket, with discreet white pocket square.
2.) Well cut 2ply/2ply white broadcloth shirt.
3.) Well cut 2ply/2ply charcoal wool tropical trousers
4.) Navy silk knit tie
5.) Goodyear welted dark brown round-toed shoes, with matching belt
With this getup, you can go anywhere. Sorry for the 5 - I couldn't stop. I think a man may need a few more pieces.. but not many.
You recently launched a webstore. How is your online business doing? Have you been able to recreate the Sid Mashburn experience on the web? How will you evolve the online shop going forward?
Thank you for asking - business has been very encouraging . We tried to carry through in our customer service piece by making the website really easy to navigate. Ease of use was first on our priority list when we were building it and worked with a some really talented web designers who made that happen. And then we just again tried to create a place, an online place, where people again, just wanted to be. We made it light and cheerful and full of images that we loved. This was tricky since we were combining the SID MASHBURN brand, which is very masculine with ANN MASHBURN, which is feminine. We were really happy with how it came out. As we grow, we will add more items, particularly, Tailored.
Are your customers primarily domestic or is there an international demand for the products you carry?
All of our customers are currently in the US. Although, we have had a nice response internationally, we have not found the best solution to sale & deliver overseas... we're working on it.
We are so excited that you finally opened a womens store, as there are very few stores catering to classic womens pieces. You're so influential, do you see the look that you propose gaining in popularity? Who is the target customer?
I wouldn't say that our "look" will gain in popularity though I hope our BRAND will. We do have a very classic, and for women what we think is a very chic and understated look that has never really been popular or unpopular - it is just seems to appeal to a certain woman and perhaps always has & will. Women's business is definitely trickier in terms of newness and trends though our women's business really stays at the further end of trendy. My wife worked as a fashion editor and loves "fashion".. she just says she prefers to look at it rather than wear it!
Our target customer is really just any man or woman who responds to what we are putting out there and who loves clothes and beautiful things. I know that is not really marketing speak, but we have customers in both stores from 15 - 80 and we feel we dress all of them really well.
Do you use any social media? How important is social media for your business?
Well, we do have a website, and we do have Facebook pages and twitter accounts - we just don't do anything with them... at the moment. We'll see.
Tell us about your Sid Mashburn label. What makes your pieces uniquely Sid Mashburn? What are some key elements?
Sid Mashburn Label is one of the main reasons why I opened a store in the first place. I was trained as a designer - but my main places in that training were J Crew and Ralph Lauren. I saw the beauty, economy, control & intimacy of vertical retailing and I knew I wanted to sell myself what I made myself.
The SM label, and my wife's AM label are just our very best efforts to make what we love to wear. The perfect shirts, pants, suits, sweaters, shoes - anything we can get done in the best way, using the BEST ingredients and for the best price.
Do you have plans to wholesale the collection?
What are some strong sellers for you right now? What are you excited about for S/S 2012?
Our shirts sell incredibly well - they are fantastic for the price. Our shoes are fantastic - in my opinion, absolutely the best quality shoes for the price in the market today - we take no shortcuts. Our double monk strap has been a bit of a harbinger for the opportunities in footwear. I have always worn some other unnamed great English & Italian shoes, but I have to say I like what we've been making... a lot.
S/S 2012... not there yet! Let us get through Christmas....
What are your future plans? Will you open any more stores in the near future? Is there any other news you'd like to share?
Future plans are to continue to try to make it happen every day. Perhaps more stores .... one at a time....