One of the highlights of my recent trip to Dallas was an unplanned meeting with retailer Sid Mashburn, the king of Classic Cool. With a mission to make shopping easier for men who are not fashion fanatics, this much-admired retailer (whose grandparents were merchants) is building his wholesale business with a curated selection of perfect menswear classics. (His wife Ann, a former editor at Condé Nast) buys/designs the women’s and is known for her equally impeccable taste level.)
With a resume that includes Frank Stella, J. Crew (he was its first menswear designer), Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Lands’ End, Mashburn understands the intrinsic nature of menswear business and how men shop. “Guys come to us not just for clothes but for confidence,” he explains. “Our stores cater to customers from high school to senior citizens. Our sales associates are both consultants and psychologists, with a goal to educate customers while getting them in and out quickly.”
Mashburn’s brick-and-mortar stores range from an Atlanta flagship (opened in 2007, it’s 4,000 square feet and employs 17 tailors) to Brentwood, CA (opened in 2016 with 650 square feet), DC, Houston, and Dallas; Mashburn also does a healthy business online. He believes in open-air tailor shops with a master tailor in every store. His well-curated in-store mix ranges from Levi’s 501s (also customizable) to ten thousand dollar full-canvas, hand-made suits to woven shirts in the finest fabrics with pearl buttons and 22 stitches per inch. Although he carries a small amount of third-party product (501s, Fieldston bags, Edward Green shoes, special watches), 90 percent of what he sells he also designs and produces. “We think through every aspect of the manufacturing process,” he explains.
His menswear aesthetic, inspired by 1960s movie stars (Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier) is all “natural shoulder, slight body tracing, slim but not tight. No, I’m not going for the voluminous looks seen on recent runways. I’m very consistent and predictable: my lapels are 8 centimeters, my collar lengths 8 centimeters, my tie aprons 8 centimeters…”
He shows me his preferred clothing model in a gorgeous solid seersucker high twist breathable fabric ($1,500 suggested retail for the suit, $995 for the jacket.) Also fabulous: his on-trend sportcoat alternatives, including military-inspired jackets ($295-$395 retail), a “butchers jacket” ($495 suggested retail), the “Virgil” (a two-button soft-shoulder coat in silk/linen/wool at $,1150) and the “Kincaid,” in wool hopsack and herringbone tweeds at $995. I loved the garment-dyed pants that feature 80s two-ply shirting fabrics as pocketing and the cotton/cashmere polos (with just a touch of fusing in the collar) at $250. “I like a good-better-best approach to the business so we can invite more people to the party,” he explains.
Mashburn’s wholesale collection is sold at Mr. Porter, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and now in better specialty stores.