Sid Mashburn on New York Retail, Slim Pants, and the Power of the Knit Tie

New York’s our number two market online in the country and the number one market by a long rate for someplace where we don’t have physical presence. So, of course, you covet a place where you can have a shop in New York.

And clearly the New York shows are working for you guys.

It’s going well. Really well. Again, we’d love to open up a shop here somewhere. It’s really interesting, because our first store was about 3000 square feet and then it grew to 4000 square feet. Houston’s roughly about the same size. Washington got big because we were gonna do something else there, and it’s still too big and we’re trying to figure out what to do with the extra space. The same thing with Dallas, because it’s a real-estate development. L.A. is—

Tiny.

Tiniest. I don’t think it’s as big as this room, is it? Super productive. We put a letter of intent on a shop [in New York] four years ago. And we didn’t get it, which I’m glad because it would’ve been too big. Now I’m thinking, do you add more small shops in the city? Where its 600 [square feet] here and maybe 1200 there? Follow the people. Follow where the fish are swimming.

Anyway, let me say hello to these guys.

[Sid removes himself to talk to a young father and his son, and returns maybe two minutes later.]

Sorry about that.

[Sid points at my shoes: it was snowing when I left the house, so I pulled on a pair of Blundstones.]

That’s one of my easiest sales in the store. If a guy’s in real estate, it’s like, “Do you have a pair of Blundstones?” It’s almost a first question. Now I’m like, “Well, you got to get a pair.” I cut grass in those. I wear them with shorts.

When I go back home now, I’ll wear them to the beach and go surfing.

The other cool thing about them is that they’re priced so that they’re also waterproof. And the first time I put them on, I was looking at them going…

[Sid stands, looks at his feet, and shakes his head sadly.]

Toe’s too bulbous. But when I see them on somebody else, I go, “Those are cool.” So I had to get my head wrapped around that: it’s not as bulbous as it looks. Especially if you look at your profile in the mirror and you think, “Oh yeah, these look pretty cool!”

So what’s new? Are guys buying new things? Do you find that you’re having to change at all, or is it pretty straightforward?

No, we’re having to grow our classifications. So: woven shirts are stock-in-trade for us. We think we make probably the best shirts for the price in the world. 22 stitches per inch, Trocas pearl buttons, the best fabrics you can buy. And we also do a made-to-measure business. The other business that was pretty popular for us is tailored clothing. And ties. Our tie business is still growing.

pMashburn's L.A. outpost.p

Mashburn’s L.A. outpost.

Alen Lin

Really? I wouldn’t think ties would be booming.

Part of that is because [other retailers] abdicated a little bit, or raised the white flag, maybe. Think of what we bring to LA. A lot of guys have been like, “I’m not doing that anymore because everybody’s just wearing T-shirts and jeans.” But they still need a jacket. Or they still need a tux. Or they still need to dress up at some point. So how do we scratch that itch? Or how do we be the men’s store? Whatever you need, you come to us to get it. So, where we have seen significant growth is: we had Levi’s and we had APC, but we’re finding we bespoke-ing the heck out of Levi’s because we would customize them for you. So for $95 dollars you get a pair of custom Levi’s. That’s pretty cool. And [the] APCs, the rise was too low. So we were finding that there was a space between that. When we started out, I was like, “I’m not making jeans.” Sure enough, we’re making jeans. And it’s blown up. As I say that, I’m sensitive to fashion: we’re not really going for the voluminous look.

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