New UVA Apparel Line a ‘Full Circle Moment’ for This Wahoo Couple
By Andrew Ramspacher
Where they came from and where they earned their undergraduate degrees didn’t matter on the night of April 8, 2019, when Matt and Kristina Loftus joined the droves of fans who rushed the John Paul Jones Arena floor in celebration following a viewing party of the University of Virginia’s men’s basketball national championship win over Texas Tech.
Their rowdy presence at JPJ on that historic evening four years ago – “a core memory,” Matt Loftus calls it – is just one chapter in their evolving Charlottesville story.
The next comes Thursday when Rhoback, the popular high-end lifestyle activewear company the Loftuses co-founded in 2016 with Kevin Hubbard, launches its first officially licensed college apparel line with a trio of UVA items.
Now available on Rhoback’s website are three new polos aptly named “The Cavalier,” “The V-Sabre” and “The Virginia Gameday.” Later this fall, a UVA quarter-zip and two hoodies also will be for sale. While Rhoback has plans for similar releases at other universities over the next year, the Loftuses were intentional in wanting UVA to be the first.
The desire came from a place of love.
The Loftuses arrived on Grounds as students in UVA’s Darden School of Business and, over the last decade, have become increasingly more passionate toward their new favorite team.
“We think the UVA community is everything,” Kristina said, adding that the Darden community played an important role in the company’s success. “And then, just Charlottesville, it’s such a beautiful town, such a beautiful place to live. We came here and we didn’t want to leave.
Matt Loftus is from Ridgefield, Connecticut, and attended Davidson College in North Carolina for his undergraduate education. Kristina Loftus is from Bedford, New York, and stayed in the Empire State for undergrad at Hamilton College. They met while working together at General Electric, prior to their move to Charlottesville.
Matt graduated from Darden in 2016 and Kristina followed a year later. The entrepreneurs, who married at Verulam Farm in Albemarle County, operate their mostly online business out of a warehouse off Seminole Trail that is proudly staffed with many UVA alumni and student workers.
Having a Wahoo-laden staff was key in Rhoback’s design process for the new gear, Matt said. The goal wasn’t to just slap a logo on a solid-color shirt and move on to the next project. Rhoback, instead, “wanted to tell UVA’s story.”
“We relied on our experience, but we also leaned on our team members who were Hoos or double-Hoos,” Matt said. “We wanted to show what made the school unique.”
The research is especially felt in “The Virginia Gameday” polo that features a repeated pattern of a vintage UVA football helmet, pennant and the Rotunda, among other motifs.
“The Cavalier” is a white-based polo with a repeated orange retro V logo. “The V-Sabre,” as the title suggests, includes the traditional athletics logo repeated over a navy polo.
The line isn’t Rhoback’s first foray into products that represent its homebase.
On Oct. 14, 2022, the company released “The C’ville” polo that came with a variety of emblems that symbolize Charlottesville, including the iconic Paramount Theater marquee. The Paramount, a staple of the historic Downtown Mall, partnered with Rhoback on the shirt, as 20% of all net sales went directly to the nonprofit theater to support its mission of bringing top performing arts events and educational programs to Charlottesville.
To date, the partnership has raised more than $34,000 for the Paramount.
“The C’ville” took on greater meaning last November following the shooting on Grounds that took the lives of football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry and injured teammate Mike Hollins and UVA student Marlee Morgan.
From Nov. 15 – two days after the tragedy – through Nov. 18, Rhoback donated 100% of the profits generated by “The C’ville” to the Chandler, Davis, Perry, Hollins and Morgan families. During those four days, more than $23,000 was raised.
“Being here in Charlottesville,” Matt Loftus said, “and seeing how that tragedy rocked our community, we felt responsible to do something. Everything we raised, it showed the power of Charlottesville, the power of UVA. It’s really special that everyone came together for that cause. We’re really proud of that.”
Rhoback’s bond with its neighboring university shines through, from larger efforts such as “The C’ville” tribute to small gestures like the UVA women’s golf team helping the company expand its collection to women’s apparel by trying on items at the warehouse.
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Rhoback has also teamed with several UVA student-athletes on names, image and likeness deals through its “Rhoback U” program.
“We’ve always been inspired by Nike being in the University of Oregon’s backyard and the same with Under Armour and the University of Maryland,” Matt Loftus said. “And we’ve felt we couldn’t be in a better location to launch this brand with support of the UVA community. UVA is a core part of Rhoback, and we have no plans of ever leaving Charlottesville.”
A couple of outsiders not long ago, Matt and Kristina Loftus are now fully committed Hoos – with the merchandise to prove it.
“This is a full circle moment,” Kristina said. “We’re so honored and excited to have UVA be our first licensed college line. It makes so much sense.”
This story originally appeared in UVA Today.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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