Untucked shirt trend taking off, company opens its first New Jersey store
By Benjamin Snyder
October 24, 2017
When Chris Riccobono was a high school student at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, wearing his uniform shirt untucked meant detention. Now, an untucked shirt is his business uniform, and he’s turned that style into a fast-growing fashion brand.
Riccobono, a Franklin Lakes native, is founder and Executive Chairman of UNTUCKit, a clothing company that will open its 18th store, and its first store in New Jersey, at The Mall at Short Hills on Wednesday.
UNTUCKit started in 2011 as an e-commerce business, selling shirts designed to be worn untucked. It has since expanded its men’s clothing offerings to sweaters, shoes and shorts, and added a women’s line of untucked shirts. Shirt prices generally range between $68 and $98. A kids’ line will launch Nov. 2.
Riccobono, who graduated from Don Bosco in 1997, Providence College in 2001 and the Columbia University MBA program in 2007, says he started the business because he saw a need for shirts that looked good when worn untucked, and set out to fill that need. Getting the length right is key to a good-looking untucked look, he notes. The shirt front should reach mid-fly and be tapered on the sides to reveal the pockets.
Riccobono and UNTUCKit co-founder and Chief Executive Aaron Sanandres, have capitalized, with exquisite timing, on the casual trend in menswear.
“We’re definitely in a comfort-driven cycle in fashion right now, and there’s nothing more comfortable than having your shirt untucked,” said Tim Bess, men’s fashion trend analyst for The Doneger Group, a global retail and fashion consulting firm.
UNTUCKit in June received a $30 million investment from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers that will fuel its retail store growth and allow it to add new products.
Riccobono, in an interview at The Mall at Short Hills, as workers were preparing the store for the opening, said that while the majority of UNTUCKit sales occur online, and he expects that to continue, he’s seen that physical stores can help grow online sales.
“We’ll always stay e-comm focused — that will always be 80-plus percent of our business,” he said. “But in order to grow to where we want to be, which is a billion-dollar brand, you need to be in brick-and-mortar.”
“There are a lot of men who won’t buy without touching or feeling the product,” the 39-year-old Riccobono said. And, he said, some men don’t want to have to return an online order that doesn’t fit. They’d rather try on a shirt in a store.
Having physical stores gives UNTUCKit added exposure, and also a place where the company can test consumer response to new products, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry analyst for The NPD Group.
“Online retailers and brands now find brick-and-mortar stores to be an important part of the growth process,” Cohen said. “Online only offers a two-dimensional process — see and purchase — while stores offer four dimensions, adding touch and feel,” Cohen said.
UNTUCKit, Cohen said, has succeeded in the untucked shirt category “by building the product the way the consumer wants it.”
The company opened a pop-up, temporary store in Soho in September, 2015. That turned into a permanent Soho store, and was followed by stores in cities around the country and some of the country’s biggest malls, including King of Prussia in Pennsylvania and the Mall of America.
Three additional Manhattan locations are scheduled to open next month. The company will have 25 stores by the end of this year and expects to open international stores next year, beginning in Canada and England.
The profit margins in the retail stores are better, Riccobono said, “because we don’t need to ship to the customer.” And having stores has been great for introducing new customers to UNTUCKit, “especially when we can open in premier places like Short Hills,” he said.
The typical UNTUCKit store is 1,200 to 1,500 square feet.
UNTUCKit's lease deal with The Mall at Short Hills prevents it from opening another New Jersey store for a year, but Riccobono is hoping the second UNTUCKit location will be in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, the mall he grew up going to, during his childhood and teen years in Franklin Lakes.
The untucked shirt is such a popular trend that a number of competitors have begun selling their own shirts designed to be worn untucked. Amazon.com has a “No Tuck” category in its men’s shirts offerings, and other men’s retailers are promoting their untucked looks.
Riccobono says the competition doesn’t worry him, because an aggressive marketing campaign of radio, TV and print ads to drive e-commerce sales has given his brand a lead in capturing the market. “We’ve become the authority in how to wear the shirt untucked,” he said. The competition, he said, “actually helps us, because more people are bringing attention to the untucked shirt."
UNTUCKit is rapidly outgrowing its original untucked shirts business model and is becoming a broader lifestyle brand. “We like to call it life outside the boardroom,” Riccobono said.
Riccobono, who has appeared in commercials for UNTUCKit, has become the recognizable face of the brand.
But even as the company expands beyond shirts, he said, the name will always remain UNTUCKit.
“When I came up with the name UNTUCKit, a lot of fashion people said it’s not sophisticated enough,” he said. Now, he views the UNTUCKit name as one of the best decisions he made when starting the business. “UNTUCKit — untuck your shirt — everyone associates us with untucked shirts,” he said. “We’ll never go away from UNTUCKit.”