By James Nieman
This men’s apparel company was founded to fill the need for button-downed shirts designed to be worn untucked.
It’s an idea so simple and brilliant that they could express it in one word: UNTUCKit!
Why a brilliant idea? Because the world’s gone casual.
Beards are back. Man-buns are popping up from coast to coast. And businesses in nearly every industry are shifting toward more “laid-back” work environments.
But when co-founder Chris Riccombono tried to join the trend and let his button-downs hang loose, he noticed that they were all too long. They would hang like a tail, creating a sloppy, unkempt look that appeared more “clumsy” than “casual.” He hated that he looked as if he were wearing his shirt incorrectly.
(Are you sensing the beginning of a great founding legend?)
Riccombono couldn’t find a solution his problem, so he did what entrepreneurs do best. He recruited a Columbia University classmate, Aaron Sanandres, and together they founded UNTUCKit in 2011.
After consulting with several focus groups, the two began their design, eventually landing on a shirt that was short enough to leave a small portion of the pant pocket exposed but long enough to cover the belt. It was casual but also sharp and sophisticated.
With just a small marketing budget, Riccombono and Sanandres knew they had to advertise wisely. They started with radio advertising, reaching their target audience by appearing on popular podcasts and shows like The Howard Stern Show. They advertised in airline inflight magazines, which helped the company drive online sales.
Turns out Riccombono wasn’t the only one with his shirt problem. The company began to grow and grow fast. People had fallen in love with the concept. It was both totally odd yet completely practical at the same time. It took off.
Since then, the company has transformed from an online-only operation run from a Hoboken apartment to a fancy SoHo office and six brick-and-mortar stores nationwide. (From direct model to direct-led, as we say.) It offers everything from sport coats to socks and recently began selling women’s clothing as well.
But Riccombono’s business is only where it is today because he discovered a customer pain point.
And then set out to solve it brilliantly.