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A mix of denim, leather goods, swimwear and boldly printed tops, Untied on Woodward is a menswear boutique that encourages shoppers to ditch the formalities and embrace a sleeker take on the laid-back look. It’s even in the name.
“It’s called Untied because you’re taking your tie off to wear casual clothing. I used to work at a lot of department stores where we were forced to wear suits and ties, and I hated all that,” said owner Erik Miller.
But being easygoing certainly doesn’t mean sloppy; Miller is adamant that “dressing nice” doesn’t mean forsaking stylish options. In keeping with that theme, shoppers looking to attend a business casual work meeting could comfortably choose from Untied’s array of clothing alongside someone going to a concert. Having opened its doors barely a year ago, Miller said he got the idea for the shop while at work at one of his former retail jobs several years ago.
“I’ve always worked in retail and the department store I worked at went out of business and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and they shut down all of their stores nationwide,” he said. “… I worked in the Ralph Lauren department, and the people from Ralph Lauren were literally coming in and pulling merchandise off of the shelves because they hadn’t been paid in months. I thought, ‘If they’re not getting paid, then I’m not going to get paid. I should just open up my own store.’”
Thus Untied was born. Asked about any changes coming up with the store’s impending anniversary, Miller said he’s looking to expand the style options available, and he’s starting with sizing.
“When I first opened, I didn’t have as much of a size range and I’ve gotten a lot of requests for bigger sizes, because people want to look fashionable even though they have to wear say like an extra, extra, large or something,” Miller said. “So, in fall, we have all bigger sizes coming in a lot of these brands. So, it’s styles and fits for everybody to make everybody feel beautiful and comfortable.”
Being an openly gay business owner himself, Miller pointed to the fact that inclusivity of all kinds is important to him. He said that at first he was nervous about being open about his sexuality, but was able to find a comfortable niche in the Birmingham market. Miller said that his draw to clothing has in part always been about self-presentation.
“I do find it empowering,” he said. “I feel like people can have their own expression with clothing.”
Beyond shifting to provide more accesible sizing, an expansion into womenswear is potentially on Miller’s radar, too. However, he said that he already has many female customers coming in to shop, too.
“I get a lot of different people shopping in here, too, like women come in here to buy shirts and stuff. Everybody wears it. I’d love to get women [coming in more], it’s just a really tight market in Birmingham here; everywhere you look there’s a women’s store, and there’s not too many men’s stores. So, I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes,” Miller said.
But Miller is certain he wants to expand his reach to locally made fashion. He said he especially prides himself on carrying bolder patterns than one would find in traditional department stores and he makes sure to carry local brands that create unique styles.
“There’s this really cool local Detroit brand I just got in touch with. They’re called First Class Committee and everything’s handmade here in Detroit, and they have factories where they make all the shirts and they have these really cool flannels that are dyed. I’d love to work with more Detroit-based companies. I sell Detroit Grooming Co., which is made in Ferndale, and all the Detroit T-shirts I sell here are made locally, and I’m all about supporting the local community,” Miller said.
Asked why local is his focus and Miller’s answer was simple: “Just to help with the local economy, keep everything local and especially, I try to work with gay-owned businesses as well, which is very important. … I’m always looking to change things up, mix it up and keep it interesting.”
To learn more about Untied on Woodward visit untied-on-woodward.shoplightspeed.com.