Several years ago, Joe Trubiano had a vision for a new retail brand in the men’s fashion industry.
It was all about socks.
“I’ve been involved in the fashion business for over 30 years. After an interesting career in fashion merchandising with a large retail organization, I launched my own fashion production house dealing in ladies wear,” said Trubiano, Founder and President of Twin Roads.
“A few years ago, I recognized that there was a huge untapped market in fun and funky socks just waiting to be developed. We are a small creative team based in Montreal. With my extensive knowledge of garment manufacturing and overseas sourcing, I was able to establish a very close working relationship with a major Italian sock manufacturer. This ensures that the creative spirit behind Twin Roads will be executed with craftsmen like quality and professionalism.
“My new personal catchphrase is ‘Twin Road socks are meant to reinforce a man’s personality and show off his fun-loving side’!”
The brand was initially launched in 2016 selling online and through sales associates based in different cities. From there, it was offered a pop-up location in Place Montreal Trust. Trubiano said sales were very encouraging and within a short period of time the brand was ready to set up in a more permanent location. Unfortunately, the pandemic altered plans and things were on hold for a while.
Last fall, business started to pick up again.
“All downtowns are having a difficult time and certainly things were difficult in downtown Montreal as well but we started to see that things were starting to pick up again last fall,” said Trubiano. “So we put our expansion process back in top of mind.”
On August 1, it opened a location in Place Montreal Trust and “sales have hit the roof,” he said.
“We were thinking we might do well but we started doing extremely, extremely well. Much better than we had anticipated. And so we’re very pleased about that. So much so that we also decided to open a second shop. Again in downtown Montreal.”
On October 1, it opened a second store in Plaza Alexis Nihon.
“As we’re going into the Christmas period, which is by far our biggest selling season, period, of the year, we’re very confident that we’re going to end up having a good year for a change after all the problems we had with our pandemic.”
Trubiano said he thinks for 2024 the brand can easily move into two other suburban malls in Montreal.
“And we want to take it easy. Sometimes when you expand too quickly things get out of hand and it’s easy to end up being less profitable or not making any money at all,” he said. “I think with two shops next year we would be at the level that I think is acceptable.
“And then in 2025 I think we can easily think about doing three or four other malls here in the Montreal region. And once we’ve covered the Montreal region I think then we can think about further expansion. We just have to think about it in a very logical way and not get too emotional about things because I think that’s when some retailers get into trouble – when they feel the world is theirs and that’s not always the case. I think one has to progress very slowly and methodically in order to end up being profitable.
“As we progress, our own internally developed line of Twin Roads socks will be expanded along with the branded product. At the moment, besides a couple of department stores, we have no competition in this area and feel that there is an opportunity to expand. In some ways, we are becoming a category killer. We think that by 2025 we will be present in all major malls in Montreal and then can think of moving outside the city.”
Trubiano said he first started working on a line of Twin Roads socks for men in 2016. They were manufactured in Italy but the company kept fine-tuning its merchandise offerings. To what was the first selection of private-label socks only for men, it added many different national brands and included a full assortment of ladies’ socks.
“We are thrilled when our customers tell us how difficult it is for them to choose which socks to buy since we have such a wide assortment. We carry over 500 styles from Canadian and US suppliers. Our customers are pleasantly overwhelmed when they enter our shop and see the incredible variety of socks that we offer them. We are very proud of the fact that we are the exclusive vendor of several European brands. We import directly from France, the UK, Spain, Portugal, and Italy,” explained Trubiano.
“One of the best-performing lines is from Spain with a very cool Snoopy theme. With my many years in the apparel business, I have come to understand the importance of quality. Everyone likes to use that word to describe their product, but we will only do business with labels that truly work towards producing a quality product. It’s hard to fool someone with over 30 years of apparel business.
“We assure our customers that with proper care the socks we carry will last many years. Price points start at $10 and go up to $35 for the fancier items. Although we do sell through our website, brick-and-mortar is where we do most of our business. Contrary to what many other retailers are trying to accomplish, that is to do more business online, I like the personal relationship that is created in a brick-and-mortar environment. Our retail customers seem to relate to this as over 20 per cent of our business is done with repeat customers.
“We strive to offer a personalized service and even a seemingly simple item such as a sock can be a complex item faced with the abundance of styles, colors and price points that our customers have to choose from.”