Behind the Brand with Zachary Prell
Behind the Brand with Zachary Prell
For Zachary Prell, expert tailoring and the perfect fabric were his first priority. Fueled by his own frustration with business attire, Prell left a career in finance to launch his eponymous label with the goal of creating the perfect shirt. Since then, the line has quickly grown into a full lifestyle collection for the discerning man. The cuts are slim, tailored and use only the finest Italian fabrics, artfully designed to take you from day to night with ease. We sat down with Prell to find out what motivated him to take the leap, how his business has changed in the face of the #MENSWEAR movement and (of course) where to eat in NYC.
Read on for this week's Behind the Brand.
Zach! Thank you so much for chatting with us today. Let's kick this off with a couple personal questions, where did you grow up?
I grew up on the West Coast and am originally from Pacific Palisades, California.
Three most played songs on your iPod right now?
Eric Clapton recently celebrated his 71st birthday and to commemorate the occasion I’ve been listening to his 24 Nights/Live at The Royal Albert Hall album. Late night, I usually unwind to Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Miles Davis and other jazz greats. In the showroom throughout the day, we currently have a mix of the French duo Air on rotation.
Favorite restaurant in NYC?
Right now, our favorite NYC restaurant is Seamore’s on the edge of Little Italy at the corner of Broome & Mulberry. Great vibe, delicious fresh seafood and creative drink menu. Try the tuna poke and fish tacos! Owner Michael Chernow hit a home run and we love this spot!
You got your start working in Finance. Why the shift? And why fashion? What motivated you to take the leap and start your own label?
Having worked in business casual environments in previous investment banking and venture capital positions, my wardrobe neither fit well nor was versatile enough to transition from day to evening. I saw an opportunity to solve this problem and conceived of the idea for a modern sportswear brand while earning an MBA at Columbia Business School.
Since launching with shirting only distribution in 2006 your line has grown into a full lifestyle collection. Can you tell us a little bit about that progression? What made you decide to launch shirting first?
Every guy needs great sport shirts to anchor his wardrobe. I had a perspective about how to improve the fit, fabric and details of my own shirts and took the initiative to start there. The progression to full lifestyle collection happened organically over the last few years while building our business. I often travel to support our brand at store visits and trunk shows across the country. This on-the-go lifestyle influences our design process as I’m always looking to integrate customer and store partner feedback and design key pieces that support a dynamic, contemporary lifestyle.
Tell us about the product, what makes the ZACHARY PRELL Sport Shirt different?
We design with the modern consumer in mind. Better fit, luxe and exclusive fabrications, inspired detailing and day-to-evening versatility are what makes our sport shirts unique.
In the past several years there has been a huge shift in the #MENSWEAR movement, with a larger focus on the menswear space, as well as a significant increase in the number of American menswear focused brands. How has this shift effected your business?
There are significantly more brands in the menswear market today than when we launched. I think this reflects a paradigm shift in the mindset of men - there is a more conscious effort to look sharp while pairing form, comfort and function. Significant advancements in e-commerce and social media have also revolutionized the way men shop and interact with brands. All of these changes have helped create new growth opportunities for our brand.
You've been showing in THE TENTS for several seasons now, do you have any wisdom to impart on first time exhibitors?
The team at PROJECT does an outstanding job of curating The TENTS in an elevated shopping environment with a mix of brands that complement each other.
Less is more: my advice would be to edit your collection in order to showcase styles that easily articulate your brand DNA. For first time exhibitors, booth space is most likely limited and therefore it’s important to attract buyers with an inviting, open and well-merchandised assortment.
Clean and green: PROJECT supplies tables for all booths and encourages a minimalist atheistic. With this in mind, we suggest utilizing small table-top branded signage and refined flower and foliage displays to add a fresh element and bit of personality to your space.
Go paperless: we’ve transitioned from our traditional hand-written line sheets to a more robust visual online platform called Joor and this has saved our brand time, paper and costs. We highly recommend!
What's next for ZACHARY PRELL? Anything exciting come down the pipeline we should know about?
I’m thrilled to share the news that we’ve recently hired menswear veteran Colin McNair as our new Vice President of Design. Colin was previously Senior Design Director at John Varvatos, where he was responsible for the brand’s second line, John Varvatos USA. We’re now working together on Spring 2017 and I’m excited to introduce all the new developments when we launch our next collection this July at The TENTS at PROJECT New York!