Launched seven years ago by Los Angeles native Jeff Abrams after he spent time traveling in Europe on the Eurorail, Rails blends the comfort, casualness, and ease of the SoCal lifestyle with a bit of international sophistication. Its shirts have been a huge hit with women around the world because of their unique, super comfortable fabrications and boyfriend-like looks, so it only made sense for the brand to expand into menswear, which it recently has. Its current 36-piece collection of men’s button-downs, tees, and cashmere blend sweaters are immensely wearable and masculine despite the fact that they are almost sinfully soft. (And not wallet-busters with most button-downs in the $148 range.)
Last week Abrams shared the story behind the new men’s offer and explained why Rails tops are truly top of the line…
When did you launch the men’s line?
We did a soft launch last year but this spring really has been more of an official launch for us. We’ve really tried to be targeted with who we partnered with to start the men’s business. We’re selling to a lot of boutiques: Places like American Rag and a handful of boutiques across the country and we’re launching with Harrods in the U.K. for fall and we’re currently selling domestically at Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom.
How would you characterize the men’s collection?
The whole idea that we’ve used in the women’s we are trying to bring to the men’s particularly with fabrication. The silhouettes that we are doing are classic, clean staples that a guy can wear season after season – button-down shirts, T-shirts, cashmere blended sweaters – things that are versatile that he feels he can get a lot of use out of. They are durable but they also make him feel comfortable.
In the women’s space we introduced these premium fabrications and we’re also trying to do it in men’s. Where we might have had 100 percent rayon or Tencel shirt in women’s we might be doing a Tencel/cotton blend in the men’s that has a little bit more body so it’s not as drapey but you still get that super soft hand feel. We’ll do that in plaids and checks and also in our denim shirtings we’ll do a Tencel blended fabrication so you really get the soft hand feel and the durability of a cotton.
We’re trying to make sure that every product we do in men’s really focuses on hand feel and fit.
What are your favorite current pieces?
The Lennox shirt is our classic button-down that we offer every season in a number of different colors. It’s a plaid and check shirt. It comes in navy bases, black bases and charcoal – things that are sort of season-less. Then we also have a shirt that has been amazing for spring/summer called the Connor shirt. It’s a linen/rayon blend. It’s a very casual but versatile shirt and we offer it in solids – solid white or navy – and we also have some different striped patterns. It sort of runs the gamut. Those are things we try to keep in the collection season after season.
What has the reaction been?
It has been great. We sort of slowly launched it and we’ve tried to do it in an organic way. We weren’t throwing a lot of product out there. We’ve tried to identify places where we already have a strong following – a lot of that is metropolitan areas of course like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. We have a lot of great traction there.
How are your men’s customers different from your women’s?
It has been interesting because I think a lot of the initial traction we got in the men’s space was due to a lot of cross shopping. We have all of these women and our target demo in women’s is probably 25 to 45. They were shopping at one of the boutiques or at a department store and they would see we launched men’s and start buying the brand for their boyfriends or their husbands or their sons and this was they way we sort of introduced the brand in the men’s space.
We’ve seen that guys are very loyal. If they find a brand that they like and they like the fit and the hand feel they will really come back to you. So now I think we’ve really started to see a lot of return customers who were introduced to the brand by women and now people are also finding it on their own at the accounts where we are selling.
What are the plans for the future?
I think the idea for us is to keep the line focused in the initial seasons doing what we do best and slowly layering new product categories. So I think as we go into 2018 we’ll bring in more bodies and maybe some lightweight trousers and jackets.
What sets Rails men’s pieces apart?
As we talked about, fabrication is the key to everything we do and I think a lot of the fabrics we are using are not something that you would find every other shirt brand doing. A lot of the shirts you find out there are traditional cottons and a little more rigid fits. We really try to infuse all of our styles with something that feels super luxe with a little element of that cashmere feel.
Then of course making sure that we have a great fit that a guy can trust if he’s getting a plaid shirt or a denim shirt or a T-shirt. That the fits are consistent across the board and that he can start buying directly from us even without trying everything on. Guys don’t want to go into a store and try on 50 different items. They want to find a brand that they love, they know they can trust, and come back to season after season.
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