UNTUCKit Founder Chris Riccobono in front of the company's New Orleans store location.
Chris Riccobono, Founder of UNTUCKit, shares how the company plans to open 14 new stores by the end of 2024. — UNTUCKit

Why it matters:

  • Menswear startup UNTUCKit was among the first direct-to-consumer brands to develop a strong store operation, and it’s an example of how that strategy can pay off.
  • The brand, whose hero product is a shirt designed to look good untucked, plans to open 14 new stores this year, bringing its total to nearly 100 locations.
  • UNTUCKit plans to focus expansion on independent clothing stores and small chains with its wholesale business.

The UNTUCKit brand was created to give men a new way to wear shirts. It has become profitable by reaching customers in multiple ways, from direct-to-consumer online sales to physical stores and now, through an expanding wholesale network.

Profitability for a digitally native brand is no small feat. Indeed, despite their early wins, “many D2C brands have grappled with losing valuation, failing to turn a profit, or shutting down altogether,” beset by factors from high customer acquisition costs to low consumer awareness due to lack of a physical store presence, according to a CB Insights report.

And despite the rise of e-commerce, 80% of U.S. retail sales are still generated in stores, the National Retail Federation reports.

UNTUCKit, for its part, will open 14 stores by the end of this year, with seven of those new locations opened in May. The new stores will grow the company’s store footprint to just under 100 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

It also is looking to expand its wholesale business through sales to independent clothing stores, as well as partnerships with larger retailers like Macy’s.

UNTUCKit: Reaching $200 million-plus in sales with a tightened marketing budget and a store presence

After surviving COVID-triggered store shutdowns and financial challenges, UNTUCKit cut costs and has been profitable since 2022. An UNTUCKIT spokesperson confirmed to CO— that reports that the company’s revenue is greater than $200 million are accurate.

The company discovered the brand building it had done since its founding in 2011 enabled it to continue to grow with a reduced marketing budget.

“Because of coming out of COVID and cash issues, we said, ‘let’s pull marketing down,’” Chris Riccobono, UNTUCKit founder, told CO—.

The company’s founders were scared to make that move, Riccobono said, due to seeing other online brands suffer sales declines after making a similar decision.

Instead, UNTUCKit discovered its earlier marketing strategy, combined with its stores, continued to fuel growth.

“Based on the loyalty of our brand and the long-term value of our customers, we were able to still perform with much lower marketing spend,” Riccobono said.

The focus with UNTUCKit’s wholesale expansion will be on independent stores and small chains. “There’s this huge independent business,” Riccobono said, noting that lots of people buy clothes at favorite local stores in or near their hometowns.

Filling a market void for better fitting men’s shirts — no tucking necessary: Copycats ‘actually helped our brand’

Riccobono’s own search for a shirt that would fit better than the baggy, long-tailed, button-down shirts worn tucked into pants led to the creation of the first UNTUCKits, which he marketed as “shirts designed to be worn untucked.”

Riccobono and Co-founder and UNTUCKit CEO Aaron Sanandres quickly discovered that lots of men shared their desire for better-fitting shirts that could be worn untucked. Other shirt manufacturers began copying the look, but UNTUCKit had already achieved something of an unofficial trademark status, where any hemmed, untucked shirt was being described as an “untuckit.”

“What we noticed was it actually helped our brand,” Riccobono said. A celebrity would be spotted wearing an untucked shirt by a different company, and social media and entertainment reports would be saying “Oh, he’s wearing an UNTUCKit.”

“It really helped our brand because it drew more attention to it,” Riccobono said.

Brick-and-mortar expansion proves critical to growth

After selling online for six years, UNTUCKit opened its first physical store – a pop-up in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood – in 2015. It was among the first DTC brands to realize the importance of also having a physical presence.

“Back then, you had people saying that brick-and-mortar was going away,” Riccobono said. “But we were hearing from customers that 70% wanted to touch and feel the product [before buying],” he said.

The reaction to that first pop-up store was so positive that UNTUCKit ramped up plans for additional stores.

The 14 new stores opening this year include three in the Los Angeles area, and one each in Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, and Long Island, New York.

 Model wearing a button-down shirt by UNTUCKit.
The general awareness of the UNTUCKit brand in the industry helped coin an unofficial trademark, with untucked shirts being referred to as "untuckits." — UNTUCKit

Riccobono said the company plans to continue to open stores beyond 2024, possibly as many as 75 additional locations. UNTUCKit also expects have stores in additional international locations within the next 18 months, he said.

The stores have been a key factor in helping UNTUCKit differentiate itself from other online clothing brands that haven’t yet opened stores, Riccobono said.

“You need a lot of cash, you need to know how to do it, you need to learn the process. We’ve learned to do it very efficiently,” he said, noting that nearly all of the UNTUCKit stores are profitable on a per-store basis.

A Harvard Business Review study found that having physical retail stores or partnerships with physical retailers was essential for profitability for direct-to-consumer brands, particularly for products that customers want to see and touch before buying.

In February, UNTUCKit announced it was entering the wholesale market, and it showed its fall 2024 line at the PROJECT Las Vegas show that month.

Expanding into local stores: ‘There’s this huge independent business… We want to be there’

The focus with UNTUCKit’s wholesale expansion will be on independent stores and small chains.

“There’s this huge independent business,” Riccobono said, noting that lots of people buy clothes at favorite local stores in or near their hometowns. “We want to be there,” he said, adding that independent store owners have been asking for a chance to sell UNTUCKit for years.

Riccobono said he wants UNTUCKit to be ready for what he believes could be a boom period for independent clothing stores, as shoppers turn to local store owners for help in selecting the right products.

With the explosion of direct-to-consumer brands, Riccobono said, “there’s really no barrier to entry. It’s amazing how many brands there are, and it’s hard to know as a customer which ones are legit. Stores can help navigate [that].”

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