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Rails owner and designer, Jeff Abrams, is one of the lucky Angelenos born and raised in his city, Beverly Hills to be specific. Although he moved up north to study political science at UC Berkeley out of high school, Abrams spent some of his college time abroad in Italy. He loved the country so much that he moved back for another year after graduating and it was his time in Europe, on the eurorail, where Abrams first came up with the idea to start a line.
When the designer returned to California, he worked in marketing and advertising for a tv animation studio, Strawberry Shortcake anyone? And then decided to develop his first Rails product, a black hat that read, you guessed it, "RAILS." After hearing "No, thanks" from several stores, Abrams landed at the mecca of Los Angeles fashion, Fred Segal's Santa Monica location, who not only bought, sold and re-ordered the hats, but also asked Abrams what else he could make.
That question led to a sweatshirt, which actually came out all wrong in production, a mistake that not only put Rails on the map but also welcomed its first celebrity fan in Matthew McConaughey. With two products, Abrams traveled the country visiting stores in what became an unusually successful game of trial and error. "Ignorance is bliss in this situation," he explained. "It allowed me to keep going without knowing the huge obstacles that were in front of me. The first two years were like pushing a huge boulder uphill."
Now, Rails is a huge brand of men's and womenswear that Abrams describes as "Southern California casual mixed with a little European styling." The staple, double-sided, relaxed plaids are in every top blogger's closet while the denims, suedes and those perforated lambskin leather shorts are the perfect example of how the brand is expanding to reach a higher-end consumer while keeping their core. "Each season we've gotten better and better at focusing on what the line is really about," he said of the brand's roots, classic bodies that are always in style. We've officially reached obsession status.
We met Abrams at Juice Served Here where we found out his kitchen specialty, favorite place to pick olives right off the tree and all about that deep-rooted love for old school rap.
What are you drinking today?
"I'm drinking The Pixie. The very manly Pixie."
East Side or West Side?
"I'd rather be on the West Side but I spend all of my time on the East Side."
What is the last chick flick that you watched?
"I don't know, maybe The Notebook was on and I watched it but it wasn't really my choosing. I was obligated to watch it with someone, while I was drinking a Pixie by the way."
Winter or Summer?
"I'll take Summer, even though I'd prefer Spring or Fall."
What's on your playlist?
"I've been into what's happening with Alt-J right now. I've also been listening to Phoenix. I like to dance so sometimes I'll throw on some '90s hip-hop to bring me back to my childhood. I have an eclectic mix of music."
Sexiest thing on a woman?
"To me it is confidence, you can tell just by her presence."
What is your favorite clothing era?
"To be honest, I really like what is happening now. People are able to access fashion much easier, everyone is on Instagram, you're looking and you're seeing what everyone is doing. People are more conscious of what is happening and you can find ways to interpret those fashions for yourself."
Where is somewhere you would love to go on vacation?
"I still like to go back to Europe, I have a lot of friends in Italy and anytime I can go back there it's great. One of my best friends, who I lived with in Italy, is from outside of Siena and he has all of these olive orchards. A couple of times when I've been back there we picked the olives out of the trees and they would go and press the olives to make olive oil, it's amazing. That's a major vacation, I don't have that much time to pop into Italy. If it's a quick trip, maybe I'd go up to Santa Barbara and stay at the Biltmore."
BBM or iMessage?
Where is your go-to spot to unwind after work?
"I used to live on this side of the hill but I just bought a house in Studio City so I am figuring out a whole new atmosphere over there. I usually like to go to dinner after work but places that are a little more intimate like Jones or Formosa."
Flannel or Knit?
Describe a typical Saturday night.
"It depends on if I'm going out with friends or if I'm going out on a date. I try and go out to dinner. One of my friends is the head chef at Watergrill in Santa Monica, so maybe go have afternoon drinks at the Bungalow and then have dinner there. I'm sort of a mellow person but if there's a concert or something fun to do, I'm always down to do that."
Do you have any special dish…
…that you like to cook at Thanksgiving?
"I usually attend Thanksgiving. I show up and try to eat all the food that I can. It's the one day I try to not cook for myself."
Pepsi or Coke?
Have you ever liked a book so much that you had to read it twice?
"There are a few books that I really love. There is one called Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin that is probably the best book I've ever read. It's about New York at the turn of the century but it's sort of surreal mysticism. One of the best stories and best writing, everything he has written is unbelievable."
What is the best concert you've ever been to?
"One of the first concerts I ever went to was Guns N' Roses and it was amazing. I was much younger but I was with some older people and they were holding us up. It was the best just because it was one of my earlier concerts."
What is your most embarrassing moment as an adult?
"Ordering a Pixie during this interview."
· Rails [Official Site]
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