Today we speak to the Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living Magazine, Sid Evans. On a personal note, this was an exciting interview for me. I have been an admirer of Sid and his creativity at both Garden & Gun and Southern Living for many years. His appreciation of the South, American made and damn good barbecue really helped us shape what I wanted to focus on when we started The Manual.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee and headed up North to Connecticut College where I was an English major. I worked on the magazines in high school and college for fun. I never thought it would lead to a career! Once I graduated I started teaching English. Did that in Switzerland for a year but it wasn’t a long-term thing.
My first magazine gig was at Abuzz magazine in L.A. (now defunct) and then I moved to New York and really started my career there at Sports Afield. Terry McDonald (the Editor) was my mentor and really one of the best (formerly of Esquire and Sports Illustrated). He went to Men’s Journal and I went there with him. I was there for five years and was Editor-in-Chief (EIC) for the last two years. I loved that magazine. It had a great mix of men’s service with an adventure angle. It wasn’t all about working out, it was much more experience oriented.
Then I was EIC of Field & Stream for another five years and I had a long run in New York City, for about 15 years. But we had two little kids and we started talking about the South. My wife is from Nashville and we didn’t want to stay in NYC forever. In the spring of 2007 I got a call from Garden & Gun. Their first editor stayed for about an issue and a half. Their concept was a crazy idea at the time but the more we talked the more exciting it became. Next thing we knew we were in the car to South Carolina.
In 2011 I moved to Birmingham, Alabama to become a Group Editor at Time Inc., overseeing five brands including Southern Living, Cooking Light, Coastal Living, Sunset, and This Old House. It was a big job, but Southern Living is the mothership here in Birmingham and I saw huge potential in this brand that had been around for nearly 50 years. So here I am. It is a great time to be here and a great time to be in the South.The region has totally exploded on every front.
I am a Levis guy. Occasionally I have ventured away but I always come back. You can mostly find me in 501’s but I do have a variety.
I keep it pretty simple. I am a huge fan of Billy Reid. I have never come across anyone else whose shirts fit as well. You can wear them up or down. I tend to go from one event to another that are totally different (from dressy to a BBQ) so I can count on Billy’s stuff to be appropriate. J.Crew is a go-to and I love Sid Mashburn. It is one of the best men’s clothing stores in America. Sid has created a cool, comfortable environment.
My Banana Republic khakis are a staple. I grew up going to a prep school in Memphis and there are some habits you just can’t shake.
You got to have Seersucker in the closet and I might bust mine out about twice a year, but it is a critical one for a guy in the South. Sid Mashburn makes a great suit and a place called Shaia’s in Birmingham is another go-to. Anything Ken Shaia recommends I follow his lead. He knows his fabrics and has great recommendations.
I’ve got a Filson bag I carry everywhere. I get a lot of compliments on it. It is just a green Filson bag, a relic of my days at Field & Stream. It is canvas and has thousands of miles on it and it holds up.
I don’t wear a watch so there isn’t much on that end. Usually a good baseball hat for those unshowered Saturdays – they come in handy.
I live in the South so it isn’t a huge concern. I love Patagonia. Always have. It is so versatile and I think I have a trench coat in my closet that has been hanging there since I left New York. But if it is a downpour I wear my Patagoina rain jacket.
I don’t wear it.
Your favorite App:
I have to say, it is probably my Grateful Dead App! I can listen to any show from any year any time I want. That comes in handy sometimes. Yes, I’m a closet Dead Head.
Favorite piece of technology:
My iPhone. Although I got a UV Boom speaker that syncs with your phone and the sound is amazing.
Next tech purchase:
The next iPhone. I am intrigued by the watch but not quite ready to go there.
How about Father’s Day ideas?
Look, what I want is to hang out on Sullivan’s Island and spend time with my family. That is the most important thing. But it is always nice to get something too. I love bourbon for one thing. I am a big fan. There are so many interesting kinds out there. You see what has happened in the bourbon world. I just learned about Belle Mead.
I have also been coveting the Brackish Bow Ties coming out of Charleston. We ran them in the magazine and somehow what we had in the office disappeared.
Speaking for myself and fathers in general, some kind of experience is a really cool gift. Say a cooking class, cocktail making class, things like that. A fishing trip too. Those are things I would get really excited about.
We just did these Southern Living food awards, recognizing great artisanal food in the South. We taste tested nearly 300 different things (which is not as much fun as it sounds). There are these pickles, Pogue Mahone Pickles. They are the best tasting pickles. Cold, crispy and spicy. I love seeing things like that coming out. That is a great gift.
Jack Rudy cocktail mixers are amazing gifts too. Brooks is a genius.
Lastly, we have been doing some books lately. As we are focused on a women’s audience we have been doing some things for a men’s audience too. We just published A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen by Matt Moore. It is showing men how to up their game in the kitchen. We also have The Ultimate Book of Barbecue by Chris Prieto. It is really technique oriented with great recipes like how to cook a brisket and some more show stopping barbecue. A third on is On the Road Again by Morgan Murphy, which is full of recipes from diners and dives all over the South. They really do appeal to a male audience and there is a need there for these books. They are selling like crazy.