It’s a simple idea: a shirt with a shorter hem that is designed to be worn to be untucked.
Untuckit, a startup founded by Aaron Sanandres and Chris Riccobono in 2011 out of an extra bedroom in Riccobono’s Hoboken, NJ apartment with just $US150,000 from friends and family, has turned that concept into a full-fledged clothing company.
Untuckit has been profitable since its second year of business. The company recently secured a $US30 million boost with its first round of funding led by Kleiner Perkins.
The investment puts the company at a more than $US200 million valuation, according to Reuters.
Untuckit has also doubled sales every year since its inception, now offering both signature shorter shirts and a wide range of other clothing categories for both men and women.
The founders are the first to admit they’re not the first to create the shorter shirt. It was a chronic problem among men, they discovered.
Untuckit is, however, the first to market itself with the shorter shirt as their signature, as well as the first to do market research to find out what the best place for a shirt hem to fall is — which took almost exactly a full year.
“I joke by saying it’s the world’s largest study ever undertaken on untucked shirts,” founder and CEO Aaron Sanandres said.
Turns out, the perfect length is mid-fly.
The founders advertised Untuckit on sports radio and in print airline magazines — two captive audiences — to get the word out. They said they almost didn’t even need visuals to explain what problem they were solving.
“Guys had a primal knowledge of what this was,” Sanandres said. “Guys suffer with it. If you know, no explanation is necessary.”
The customer response to the ads was “immediately overwhelming,” which buoyed the company into profitability and the success it enjoys today.
The idea, according to the founders, hit at the right time when the casualization of men’s wardrobes was reaching fever pitch.
“Can’t say we generated that trend, but we certainly hit the trend at the right time,” Sanandres said.
It also fits neatly into the demand for “neater” casual clothes that can be worn to work, fancy restaurants, or just to look more put together.
“We stopped using the word versatile because it was in the description of every shirt on our website,” Riccobono said.
Untuckit has gone broad in its marketing, appealing to men from all over the country in the generous age range of 35-65.
“If you go to our Soho store you’ll see a 25-year-old hipster from Brooklyn next to an 85-year-old man from Florida. it’s just amazing the range,” Riccobono said. “Anybody who’s worn their shirt untucked whether it’s the old classic brands or the new brands, if you’ve worn your shirt untucked and put on an Untuckit [shirt], it resonates.”
The brand awareness for Untuckit is now such that the founders are no longer worried about other companies coming along and stealing the idea of making shorter shirts.
“I stopped worrying a couple years ago,” Sanandres said. “Now I actually see it as a positive. If more people are typing in ‘untucked shirts’ because more brands are bringing awareness to the issue, that only helps grow the proverbial pie.”
Untuckit’s shirts are premium priced — what the founders call a “thoughtful acquisition” — with an average cost of about $US80 a pop. Apart from the shorter, rounder hemline, they also feature a small arrow on the untucked shirttail, indicating the brand with a signature logo.
The brand now has eight stores, but will have 22 stores open by the end of 2017 with locations across America concentrated in larger metro regions.
Though Untuckit hopes to open as many as 100 stores in the next two years using the new capital, the founders say they will remain in the margin of profitability.
“That is part of our DNA,” Sandares said.