“No Negativity Allowed.” Written in white block text on a red rectangle, those are the first words you see when walking into the Mashburn offices. The sign sits above a mood board that is equal parts chaos and structure, and the whole scene is the perfect parable for Sid, Ann, and the namesake companies the Mashburn’s have built.
Sid Mashburn is a natural host. He greets everyone with a big smile, a warm handshake, taking coats and offering beverages. It’s autumn in Atlanta, and as usual, the city is giving us her best. As I tour the office, sunlight dapples the floors and walls through the large leaded windows. That relationship between chaos and structure reigns true everywhere you look. On tables, there are heaps of fabric swatches, papers, and books next to desks in perfect lines laid out with an appropriate amount of walking distance between them. And, if you ask Sid, he can tell you exactly how many inches apart they are.
In one room, mood boards featuring a museum’s worth of images line the walls and are, in turn, stacked several boards deep. They give preview to upcoming collections as well as serve as an archive of inspirations from seasons past. There are shots of Steve McQueen, Dick Van Dyke, vintage surfers, and other style icons. Their classic looks reimagined in modern silhouettes. On some boards, fabrics are pinned. On others there are hand drawings or leaves and bark gathered from the Georgia wilderness. As Sid says, he is “inspired by creation” and this room shows it.
As we make our way downstairs, the chaos ensues. The area is massive and has a ton of moving parts. There are tailors, photographers, extra stock, and people zooming back and forth. True to Sid’s nature, he introduces us to everyone we pass, asks them how their day is going, and checks in on the business. Alterations are in progress while orders are being packed. Boxes are constantly coming in and going out. Different clothing looks are being set up in a small studio and notes are taken. It’s in these moments that you begin to realize the chaos isn’t really chaos. It’s an orchestrated symphony of movement, and Ann and Sid are the conductors.
When we sit down to chat about the evolution of Mashburn and Sid’s watch collection, we are in the office he shares with his wife and business partner with the “No Negativity Allowed” sign and joint mood board behind him.
To get a true feel for where Mashburn the company is now, it’s important to know where Sid Mashburn came from. His Mississippi drawl betrays his southern roots, but Sid’s style and knowledge are worldly. After a childhood spent interested in clothing, he ventured to New York where a man took a chance on him and gave him paid vocational training. In New York while on a beach trip with friends, Sid met Ann. She would become his wife and also introduce him to his first design job at a nameless startup catalog in New Jersey. That catalog was J. Crew, and Sid became their first menswear designer. From there, Sid went on to Ralph Lauren, Lands’ End, and others. At Lands’ End, he and his team designed the now classic barn coat – a marriage of function and form.
Eventually, Ann and Sid decided to venture into their own direct-to-consumer business and needed a place to start their dream. One springtime trip to Atlanta with blooming daffodils and they were sold. Sid and Ann packed up their family and laid their new roots, starting Sid Mashburn a short time later. Now, the Mashburn collective is a lifestyle business that goes beyond the men’s store. They have the Ann Mashburn store. A woman’s answer to the tailored perfection of the men’s store. But it doesn’t end there. They also carry accessories, children’s clothing, home goods, and make a mean cup of coffee in their flagship location.
Sid is the kind of guy you could listen to for hours. He weaves stories with ease and remembers vivid detail. He is an observant man with impeccable taste. As he takes us through his collection, you can quickly see how the goodness in his life, whether it be watches, family, music, or a myriad of other things inspire the creations for Mashburn.
The first watch Sid walks us through is his Rolex Explorer. It’s an early 80’s reference with a black face and Arabic numerals. He likes the weight of the watch, it’s just hefty enough to feel durable, and has a perfect case size. To Sid, it’s a less obvious watch and it makes him “feel good.” For him, it was a watch that symbolized achievement, but only a marking spot to what could still come.
His 1960’s Tudor Prince Oysterdate is a nice juxtaposition to his Rolex. It is a cream face with a steel case and silver indices. Sid appreciates what Tudor did as a business by being a watch brand that occupied a price point that many brands didn’t at the time. He also points out the Italian, hand-stitched suede strap he has put on the watch to take the formality down a notch and give it a “dressing smart” look as opposed to a dressed up look.
Sid’s Zenith has been in his collection for more than 20 years. It’s got a beautiful patina on its cream dial and gold case. The simple dial looks great with the blue and green regimental stripe nato strap he put it on. Basically, in Sid’s words, “it loosens it up” and allows him to mix two very distinct looks – elegant and casual.
Unlike many watch collections, he also has a small collection of pocket watches, mostly from his father. One is a stopwatch in a tarnished silver. It still has a decisive click to its functions and has aged the way it was intended to. This helped inspire the way silver and brass is done at Mashburn too. Keeping it unlacquered allows the “true spirit” of the metal to shine through.
Lastly, he shows us a Ball pocket watch from his Dad. Originally Ball, an American company, designed watches for the railroad to help conductors keep time. Sid’s example feels good in the hand and has a crisp white dial and large numbers to make sure the user could easily tell time in a flash. It’s not a “collector’s” watch, but because it came from his Dad, it means the world to him.
Sid Mashburn will tell you he doesn’t think that his watch collection is impressive, but they are all pieces he loves. He loves the way they feel, and how he is able to connect with a machine. For Sid, his mantra of dress is “I am open and accessible” and we think his watches truly reflect that.