By Craig Patterson
New York City-based men’s casual brand UNTUCKit, known particularly for its shirts that are meant to be work untucked, opened its first Canadian location on Wednesday of this week at Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens. The company has announced that professional hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is an investor in the company, and he was in Toronto on Monday to meet with the press prior to the store’s opening. UNTUCKit’s CEO says that the company is expected to expand aggressively across the country as it gains brand awareness.
The 1,565-square-foot CF Sherway Gardens store carries the full line of UNTUCKit men's apparel, including shirts, sweaters, pants, outerwear and other categories. The store is located in the mall’s expansion wing which debuted in 2015 and is anchored by Harry Rosen, Sporting Life and an elevated food court.
UNTUCKit has also launched an e-commerce platform for the Canadian market and has announced that it has a product fulfilment centre that is based in Toronto. The fact that the company is launching online retail in Canada is impressive, considering many international retailers don't when they enter Canada, and in some instances, still haven't to this day.
Brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap represented UNTUCKit in the lease deal with landlord Cadillac Fairview, and Jessica Millett at Oberfeld Snowcap is also representing the retailer moving forward as part of its Canadian store expansion. Future locations are expected to generally measure between 1,500 square feet and 2,000 square feet, similar to that of its US stores.
"This is an exciting milestone for UNTUCKit! Since we began opening stores in the U.S., having a space in Canada has always been a goal of ours—we couldn't think of a more fitting place than fashion-centric Toronto for our first location. Our Canadian customers have been shopping with us for years online, so we're looking forward to offering them another way to experience UNTUCKit, this time up close and in-person," said UNTUCKit Founder Chris Riccobono.
Wayne Gretzky is an investor, as revealed by the company for the first time last week. According to the company, the partnership kicked off after Mr. Gretzky became a fan of the brand. His wife had visited a store in St. Louis where she bought her husband a shirt, and he liked it so much that he sent a signed bottle of Wayne Gretzky Whiskey to add to the store's collection. When founder Chris Riccobono reached out to Mr. Gretzky, a partnership evolved that “sits at the intersection of investment and brand ambassadorship,” according to the company.
Gretzky, who hails from Brantford, Ontario, is quoted as saying, ”I’m excited to be working with UNTUCKit—especially as they open in a place so close to home. Their incredible product drew me to the brand, and, after learning about their rapid growth, I knew I wanted to be involved with them in a meaningful way. Investing in such a growing brand has given me the opportunity to grow as an entrepreneur, and I'm looking forward to serving as a brand ambassador, since everything they offer aligns so well with my lifestyle.”
As a part of the ongoing brand partnership, Mr. Gretzky will appear in UNTUCKit marketing campaigns in stores and across digital and print platforms in both the United States as well as in Canada.
Gretzky’s involvement in the brand comes at an opportune time — UNTUCKit is one of the fastest-growing retail brands in the United States, and it’s taking that growth trajectory to the Canadian market with plans for several stores in Canada.
In an interview on Monday of this week, Mr. Riccobono said that he expects to open several UNTUCKit locations in Canada in the near future, as the company expands aggressively by seeking out space in some of the country’s top malls. Leading malls in the Toronto area will be targets and the pace of expansion will be determined based on data collected from the CF Sherway Gardens store in the first few weeks of operations. Other Canadian markets such as Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton are all in line for stores at some point, though there isn’t yet a timeline or projection as to the number of stores that it might open here just yet.
Mr. Riccobono noted that in the United States, UNTUCKit operates a mix of standalone and shopping centre-based stores. Canada might see a similar mix.
The company has 39 stores in the United States and impressively, it plans to open 15 more stores in 2018, including its expansion into Canada where it is confirmed to be opening the one store so far.
Canada is UNTUCKit’s first international expansion market, and the company confirms that it began looking at retail spaces in the summer of 2017, both in malls as well as street front locations. Ultimately, CF Sherway Gardens won out in securing Canada’s first UNTUCKit location — the enclosed mall, located near the Mississauga border, boasts an exceptionally high productivity as well as an affluent base of shoppers for its stores that include the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., De Beers and Tory Burch. CF Sherway Gardens is also seeing other first-to-market retailers open in the centre — in the spring, mattress-in-a-box brand Casper opened its first permanent physical store in the shopping centre.
Since launching in 2011, UNTUCKit has grown to 13 product categories that range from T-shirts and polos to sports jackets and performance wear. The brand has also introduced lines for women and children, offering “perfectly contoured hemlines” and more than 50 tailored fit options.
UNTUCKit says it chose Canada for an expansion because the country already has plenty of online customers. Toronto, specifically, is one of UNTUCKit’s top e-commerce markets and so a store in the city just made sense.
We’ll be following up with UNTUCKit as it continues with its expansion plans in Canada into 2019 and beyond.