If you are at all a fan of classic, tailored menswear, then you are probably familiar with the name Sid Mashburn. For the last decade, Mashburn has cultivated a well-deserved reputation as one of the premiere U.S. destinations for great suits, shirting, and casual wear. From his eponymous store in Atlanta, Georgia, Mashburn has become the go-to source for any man who truly cares about his wardrobe.
But while his brick-and-mortar expansion into Houston, Dallas, D.C., and Los Angeles has allowed guys from other parts of the country experience his wares, it's online where Mashburn sees the biggest opportunity. And not just with off-the-rack ready to wear. Starting officially tomorrow-though we have an exclusive preview for Esquire readers right now-sidmashburn.com will feature a fully customizable made-to-measure shirting service, where guys can get dress shirts constructed exactly to their specifications. From picking collars and buttons to getting that perfect tailored-for-you fit, the new made-to-measure option is everything you'd get from the store, only done from the comfort of your own living room.
We spoke with Sid about his move into online customization, and how technology has helped democratize the whole made-to-order market.
On why he decided to go online with his made-to-measure shirting:
Basically, because of customer request. We started the store in Atlanta in 2007, and we were doing customization from day one-whether it was shirts, or even trousers, jackets, and suits. But, what we found is, a lot of people come in and out of Atlanta, and they wanted to order from us after they'd left. And also, we had a lot of customers who don't even make it to Atlanta who were saying, "How can I shop you and get a shirt, custom made, without having to come into the store?"
On how technology has made online made-to-measure possible:
We've added an option where you can do FaceTime or Skype fittings. Five years ago it sounded really kookie, and today it still sounds a little unusual, but we've already worked so much around the world on Skype, and we do a lot of FaceTime stuff, that people have a comfort level with it now. We've done fittings already around the country; whether it's in New York, or Chicago, or out in the Northwest. And we've done it to great success.
On the future of online made-to-measure:
I think it's going to get more popular. The interesting thing about it is some guys, particularly guys that are into fashion or into clothes, are like, "Oh, I want to design my own thing." But they realize once they get into it that it's kind of hard to design your own thing. So it's, "Can you give me a template to work from?" Our point of view is we want to offer something that really is a sum of all of our experience as a business. We give you our set of collar options, our set of cuff options, our set of pocket options, and our set of fit options. We aren't saying, "Design your own shirt," you know? And frankly, most guys are more comfortable with something like that because when you have the whole world open to you, it's a little paralyzing. We try to make it so that it's not overwhelming to a customer.
On the fits themselves:
We've got three different fits on the shirt. One is what we call our standard shirt, which is the fit we've essentially had since day one. Back 10 years ago when we opened, that was a slim fit shirt. And we've since added a shirt that's a little bit of a slimmer fit. So, I would wear both the slim fit, and the standard fit, personally. Then we also added a shirt called a Supra. Which is slightly bigger than the standard fit. I'm probably not going to wear that, but that's typically for a guy who's a little bit bigger, or who likes his clothes a bit more relaxed.
On the difficulty of translating in-store made-to-measure to online:
It's harder than you'd think it is. You see a lot of options out there, and we also wanted to make sure that we did it the way we do everything; we wanted to be as thorough as possible. So, basically, what we're doing is, we're taking what we call skin measurements, which are actually just your body measurements where you're putting a tape against your body, and then, depending on the fit, we'll give what we call an ease over body to each fit. So, for instance, these aren't exactly correct but just for contextual purposes I'll give it to you. If you measure 39 inches on your chest, and you love slim fits, I think the ease over body is roughly four inches. Again, don't quote me on that, but any time you get body measurements, you can't have the shirt fit right next to your body. So figuring out what was the ideal ease over body measurement for the three different fits, that takes a lot of work. A lot of trial, a lot of error. Because you're working with something that's a three dimensional item.
On the appeal of a made-to-measure shirt.
We want to help guys shape their look and their style but we don't want to say, "You've got to wear this," or, "You've got to wear that." It takes a little bit of the fun and the interest out of wearing clothes. And that's part of the fun about doing the custom shirt idea. We've gotten it to the point, from a price perspective and from an option perspective, that it's pretty democratic. It's accessible to a lot of different people across the spectrum. It's not as precious. That's kind of what we're trying to do is democratize the idea of a custom shirt or a made-to-measure shirt, and make it as accessible as possible.
On who this service is meant for:
It's for everybody. It's for a guy who, in the past, had not even considered a custom shirt. It's also for any guy who walks in the door. Back when we opened the store, we said, "There's no demographic for this shop. If we have to have a demographic, we're not going to enjoy this store as much." Our youngest customer was 11, our oldest is 87. The price points we've got go from inexpensive or very accessible to as good as you want. You want a suit that's completely made by hand? We can do that, too.
On plans to expand the online made-to-measure service into suiting:
We'd love to do that. You know what, this is what I'm thinking today. We're going to win today, and then we'll go forward. If this succeeds, yeah we'll give it a shot. And in a sense, we're kind of already doing it by doing some of these Skype sessions across the country. We're doing suits and trousers in many of those. And it's been successful.
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