In the past decade—the time during which the formal office dress code was said to be dying a speedy death—few men have been more devoted to the suit and tie than Matt Lambert. It helped that he worked at Atlanta-based tailoring mecca Sid Mashburn, where a jacket and tie are all but mandatory, for 12 years. (He was employee number five.) But he kept his uniform on even when off-duty: he ran errands in suits, picked his kids up from school in suits, and played shows with his psychedelic drone-rock band All The Saints…in suits. “For the last 12 years,” Lambert says, “the suit stayed on.”
Lambert left Sid Mashburn last March, but the suit didn’t come off—it just started looking weirder. He began cooking up a new silhouette that was a radical departure from the soft-and-slim American tailoring Mashburn is known for: the lapels were wider and more dramatic. The shoulders were stronger. The jacket was longer and looser, as were the trousers. Tiny details tailoring nerds dissect and debate on menswear forums disappeared entirely—the jacket didn’t have darts, and the trousers didn’t even have a constructed waistband. The tie? Nowhere to be found. It was a suit with a fuck you presence that also looked comfortable enough to wear to the grocery store. And now Lambert isn’t the only one wearing it: it forms the heart of his new unisex suiting label, Factor’s, which launches online today.
Lambert has been quietly taking custom appointments at his showroom in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta since August, and though it might seem downright insane to start a tailoring brand during a dress code-destroying pandemic, his approach aligns perfectly with two principles I’ve come to believe will define post-Covid dressing: people will embrace more radical style attitudes—but, after a year-and-change spent largely indoors, they’ll also want to keep dressing as comfortably as possible.
Even before Covid hit, Lambert conceived of Factor’s as a reaction to the super-slim, overly picky tailoring aesthetic menswear had long embraced. (The name speaks to every little detail that goes into a finished garment, and the apostrophe is a nod to iconic Atlanta store Muse’s, which was the first in town to stock Polo.) At Sid Mashburn, Lambert says, “We tailored garments all day, every day. We didn’t really send anybody out the door with anything. We were in a world that was very well-tailored to the point of skinny.” It was a world where guys knew the measurement of their trouser hem openings down to eighths of an inch.
Lambert started going the other way. An obsession with mid-’70s Yves Saint Laurent suits—aggressive shoulders, flowy trousers—began to bleed into his daily wardrobe. He started grabbing suits off the rack and wearing them unaltered, “as Sid designed them, almost as a statement, like, ‘This is a garment with no tailoring.’”
Lambert is still obsessed with proportion and fit, but only in the most important places. “What I’m trying to do is fit the frame of a body, which is your shoulders and your face, with the highest quality possible and the narrowest shoulder, and then just let it drape naturally,” he says. When he ran trunk shows for Sid Mashburn, you’d hear Lambert use terms like “waist suppression”: everything was in service of a crisp, aggressive line. Now he describes jackets and trousers as “melting,” “elongating,” and “dropping.”
Helpfully, the look isn’t just about attitude. As skaters the world over have discovered, a more relaxed silhouette means your garment will have a longer lifespan. Which sounds good when you’re talking about a Carhartt jacket, and even better when you’re talking about a handmade ivory canvas blazer. “People can wear this stuff harder,” says Lambert. “Because when you have skinny garments, they do not last.”
What’s not in the 23-piece collection is almost as notable as what is. There are no ties, and not a single patterned fabric. “There was enough of that out there, you know?” Lambert says. Instead there’s a blazer made out of Lewis Leathers horsehide, with a matching pair of trousers that Lambert describes as “$2,000 501s.” (Sick!) There are also oversized oxford shirts, buttonless blousons, custom playboy derbys made with venerable punk shoemaker George Cox, and mesh socks inspired by underwear L.L. Bean made for fishermen in the ’60s. (Who needs ties when you’ve got mesh socks?)
As the Sid Mashburn empire has expanded across the country, filling the J.Crew-shaped void in young professionals’ closets, the brand has proven that people will pay full price for garments that fit exactly how they want, no matter how specific. Lambert is betting that in 2021 those same customers will pay even more—Factor’s tailoring is sold as separates; blazers start at $2,350—to give up some of that control and enter his own aesthetic universe. But since Lambert wants his musician and bartender buddies to get in on the action, you can also go to his showroom and pick up a pair of custom Ben Davis chinos. They’re $50 and only come in black, and Lambert will pin and tailor them with Factor’s signature stovepipe leg like they’re $650 wool-mohair trousers.
Lately, Lambert says he’s been noticing a lot more of Ben Davis’s signature red gorilla patches around Little Five Points. But right now, he says, “we’re not designing to chase numbers. I hope that’s the case for as long as we can go.”