In the crowded athletic apparel space, perhaps the best and only way for a startup to make waves and capture market share is by significantly upping the ante when it comes to fit and performance. Enter Greatness Wins, a new venture started by Untuckit founder Chris Riccobono, along with MLB hall-of-famer Derek Jeter, ballet dancer Misty Copeland, and ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
By leveraging pro-athlete insights when it comes to design and construction, Greatness Wins aims to fill a niche in the athletic wear market: producing premium performance apparel with consistent quality control and fit—in an increasingly important aspect of the manufacturing process, especially in today’s direct-to-consumer-centric economy.
“We have a plan to cover everything from soccer to tennis to every sport out there,” Riccobono tells Fast Company. “I’d heard it from athletes, that the quality is not there anymore. With huge athletic brands, the specs are all over the place. And then you have athleisure, where the quality is actually great. The problem with them is they’re not meant to work out in.”
Greatness Wins debuted online in late July with a men’s collection comprising tops, bottoms, and accessories, including socks and hats. Women’s apparel, which will be created with guidance from Copeland, is scheduled to launch in 2023.
“I see this collection as an evolution of my dance career, entrepreneurship, and life as a whole,” Copeland says. “The women’s line will focus on designing products that are functional, supportive, stylish, and use high-quality, sustainable materials.”
“All of our products have a focus on fabric performance, sustainability, and quality first and foremost,” Jeter tells Fast Company. “I only wanted to create a brand if I knew we could offer something better than what was already available to shoppers. I’m extremely involved in the design and creative direction for our products, working closely with our leadership and design teams throughout the entire process.”
Jeter says the Greatness Wins Core Tech Quarter Zip top as one of his favorites. “We designed the quarter zip to be breathable, moisture-wicking, and quick to dry, and the front zipper allows you to get additional ventilation as you warm up throughout the workout,” he says. “It is an ideal layer for my daily workouts like lifting and cross-training, and honestly for running around after my three daughters.”
Gretzky, who has pivoted his athletic pursuits toward golf since retiring from professional ice hockey in 1999, is especially fond of the brand’s Clubhouse Pants. “They are perfect for spending the day outside, with fabric that is both UPF 40 and water-repellent, ensuring you are comfortable no matter what the weather conditions are,” he tells Fast Company. “The last thing you want to be thinking about in the middle of a round of golf is your clothes, so we made sure the pants look classic, but are lightweight and actually move with you.”
As for the unconventional brand name, Greatness Wins is a departure from quippy invented monikers of big players in the space, such as Nike, Adidas, Lululemon, and Gymshark—Riccobono says the choice was intentionally literal.
“When I came up with the name Untuckit, every single person in the world of fashion and design said it’s the worst name you could ever come up with,” he says, but, as it turns out, “it was the greatest thing I’d ever done. I knew if I ever launched a new brand, I was not going to have a simple name where you can’t understand what this is about. When you’re fighting for marketing dollars, you need something that’s going to say, wow what is that? Greatness Wins—it’s an athletic apparel brand.”