Zachary Prell has become one of the best up and coming designers in menswear by adhering to a common sense principal - taking the dress and sport shirt we all have and making it into a unique piece, styled and cut to the wearer. Zachary Prell’s sport shirt collection loses the boxy cuts and billowing sleeves for a more modern, tailored look. Raggs New Haven carries several of Zachary’s line both in our brick and mortar shop as well as our online shop. Zachary has also been in our store live and in person for trunk shows and appearences. We recently had the chance to interview Zachary Prell about the origins of the brand, his beliefs towards menswear and of course, the sports shirts and dress shirts he’s known for.
Raggs: Of all the menswear brands, Zachary Prell has one of the best origin stories. You saw a problem (ill-fitting, unrealistically-designed sport shirts), and developed an answer. How long did it take you to make the perfect sports shirt, and what makes your shirts perfect?
Zachary Prell: It didn't happen overnight! It took two years of back-and-forth with sample-makers and factories. I took stock of what could be improved on other shirts, corrected deficiencies and found new solutions to offer a better product. I started while I was at Columbia Business School and had the advantage of "real world" input from friends and peers at school––I was constantly asking them for feedback. Ultimately, the shirts are designed from a consumer's point of view.
Raggs: One of your goals in creating your line is versatility––a shirt that can be worn during the workday and after hours. Does this credo of versatility apply to the business as well? To your outlook on fashion in general?
Zachary Prell: Yes, very much so. The ZACHARY PRELL brand is designed to outfit our guy from head to toe, and from day to night. We want him to come to us for all his favorite clothes.
Raggs: A lot of Spring 2013's line involved linen in very unique shades of pink, violet and blue, which are traditionally cool colors. What can we expect for Fall 2013 in terms of that same unique style?
Zachary Prell: Fall 2013 features rich, autumnal colors, like deep burgundy, navy, burnt orange and purple. But the real shirt story is probably in the fabrics themselves––there are plenty of small, neat, versatile prints that look fresh and modern and are easy to dress up or down. They look great––and brand-new––in a guy's wardrobe.
Raggs: The dress shirt, on the whole, is a somewhat limited garment in terms of design and construction. How do you push those boundaries when you're designing?
Zachary Prell: We focus on the details, and getting them exactly right: how the collar sits against the roll of a jacket lapel, for example, or where the shirttail ends––mid-pocket on most jeans. We work closely with textile mills, and have access to exclusive fabrics. And we're fanatics about quality control: we insist on exceptional craftsmanship.
Raggs: What's your favorite non-shirt piece in the Fall collection?
Zachary Prell: I'm proud of our luxurious, super-soft sport coat, the ORCHARD. Heathered Japanese cotton is transformed into lofty French terry cloth then cut into a modern-looking jacket. It's our updated take on a classic fall layering piece. I've been living in it!
Raggs: On your website, you list your Manhattan neighborhood as one of your inspirations. Is Zachary Prell a reflection of downtown, or do you transcend the geography?
Zachary Prell: I'm definitely inspired by my neighborhood––New York's Lower East Side––and, yes, the brand certainly has a real "downtown" sensibility. That said, I've lived in cities all my life, and not just New York, and I want the collection to appeal to guys in any city, from Los Angeles to Atlanta to London to Shanghai.
Raggs: As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give to folks looking to start their own projects?
Zachary Prell: Don't treat entrepreneurship like a second job, or a hobby: you've got to commit to it 100%. There will always be people telling you something can't be done, but you don't have to believe them. My best advice? Do what you love!
Raggs New Haven carries several Zachary Prell Sports and Dress Shirts both at our brick and mortar shop in New Haven and on our online store, The Raggs Shop