Founder Stories

A Leap from Finance to Fashion Startup to Lifestyle Brand- Zachary Prell ’05BUS

Zachary Prell’s successful fashion and lifestyle brand has everything the modern, stylish businessman needs. Being one himself, he’s made sure of it.

In a previous career, Prell was in finance, first as an investment banker at Credit Suisse and later helping startups secure investments at Polaris Partners. Frustrated with the sartorial selections that were available – the clothes weren’t quite appropriate for his various commitments or they were ill-fitting – he decided to create a solution himself and start his fashion startup from scratch.

Prell left finance and went to Columbia Business School with the intent of building the type of menswear brand that would work seamlessly in every part of a professional man’s life – from breakfast meetings through the work day and into the evening.

“This project was really unique in that I was living in this laboratory of New York City, which enabled me to network with my peers and seek out advisers from the Columbia community,” Prell recounted the experience to Forbes.

In addition to finding new contacts, mentors, and inspiration in the community, he found support among his fellow Columbians. Over pizza and beer, Prell’s friends shared feedback on fit and served as models for prototyping his first collections. No longer a fashion startup, the growing modern American lifestyle brand is now sold in Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales as well as through Trunk Club, keeping men well-dressed and comfortable for anything, anywhere.

After self-funding the venture for a couple of years, Prell attracted an angel investor, and in 2014, raised $15 million dollars in a Series A financing from strategic partner TAL Group. At this new level, the brand began to evolve its executive team, hiring Chuck Lucia of Hugo Boss as its president and Colin McNair of John Varvatos as vice president of design.

What’s next for Zachary Prell? For the man behind the brand, he’s now helping Columbia’s entrepreneurs work through their own challenges and opportunities. His eponymous brand is looking towards featuring sportswear, tailored clothing, and accessories sold through various channels, including wholesale, its own online shop (www.zacharyprell.com), and ultimately a select network of brick-and-mortar flagship stores to showcase and curate a uniquely personalized brand experience.

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