Atlanta couple dazzle Houston retail scene with custom Levi's, sharp suits and Southern hospitality
Sid and Ann Mashburn aren't native Houstonians, but you would think they have been here forever from the warm reception they received upon celebrating the first anniversary of their River Oaks menswear and womenswear boutique.
"I love how welcoming people are here, how hard working they are, how they appreciate really nice quality."
A large crowd of loyal customers, including some of the city's Old Guard denizens, turned out to congratulate the couple on the success of their gorgeous store in the Lamar-River Oaks Shopping Center across from Lamar High School.
"I love the independence of spirit that's here in Texas," said Sid Mashburn, while greeting guests at the store, which offers a curated range of men's clothing, along with a big blue ping pong table where customers can play a game or two in between trying on clothes.
"People in Houston are a little bit like Atlantans. It's like, 'Come on in, man.' Nobody's a stranger," he added. "I love how welcoming people are here, how hard working they are, how they appreciate really nice quality because they're not some people struck in the middle of Texas. They get around. They're very sophisticated."
After stints at Ralph Lauren, Land’s End, J. Crew and Tommy Hilfiger, Mashburn opened a men's store in Atlanta that reflects his personal style in 2007 and expanded to Houston last year, with plans to open in Washington, D.C. next spring. While the Houston store draws from the affluent surrounding area, Mashburn aims for a more broader clientele.
"I don't want to be the store just for the River Oaks guy. I want to be the store for the Pasadena guy. I want it to be as big of a tent as possible. Because the reason we got into this is because we like people and we like clothes," said Mashburn, a gregarious guy who hails from Brandon, Miss.
He points out that the product line ranges from $65 Levi's jeans to $12,000 handmade suits and offers hip brands like A.P.C., Kiton and Barbour, along with its own in-house brand. For $30 extra, an in-house tailor can completely customize a pair of Levi's to fit perfectly.
"We will completely flay the jean so that it's in four pieces and then put it back together tapered. That's the problem with 501 Jeans. They've gotten jowly. I always want a little slimness in the thighs," he says. "We customize it, so for $95 you get a pair of custom jeans. That's pretty cool."
On the women's side of the store, Ann Mashburn offers such brands as Isabel Marant, Herno, A.P.C and Saint James T-shirts, along with the store's in-house items, ranging from cashmere sweaters to lace pencil skirts.
"It's just a very healthy awesome interesting city and we found this great mid-century modern building that we love."
"Our store is meant to be our own label but with other iconic brands mixed in," she said. "We love brands that stand for something."
The couple has a bit of a Texas connection because their oldest daughter went to the University of Texas in Austin.
"It's just seems a wide-open state and the Houston economy is fantatstic. It's just a very healthy awesome interesting city and we found this great mid-century modern building that we love," Ann Mashburn said, referring to the Houston store location. "We're design people so we're lured by a beautiful building. It seems like a great spot."
Have they noticed any difference in the customers dress in Houston and Atlanta? "In my realm I don't think there's any difference. I think women always want to be beautiful wherever they live. To me it's the same," she said.
At the anniversary party, guests sipped on champagne sampled light bite prepared by Mark's chef Mark Cox. Spotted in the crowd were Blake Tartt, Kirby McCool, Lindsay Holstead, Laura Kelsey, Boo Kennedy, Blakely Gibbs, Elizabeth Gibbs, Leigh Ann Raymond, Monica Bickers, Carter and Mary Groves, Chris and Stephanie Midkiff, Monica Pope, Sara Eliason, Linda Brown and Ruth Meric.