Why Rothy’s Is Betting Big on Brick & Mortar

Rothy’s is focused on maintaining its momentum. So much so, the women’s brand, known for its shoes made of recycled plastic water bottles, is bolstering its brick-and-mortar strategy. Last year, Rothy’s sold more than 1 million pairs of shoes, generating revenue of more than $140 million. Now, Rothy’s is opening five retail stores this fall, with more to come in 2020, to further acquire new customers.

Since nabbing a $35 million investment from Goldman Sachs last December bringing its total funding to $42 million, investing in stores has been top of mind. With one location in San Francisco opening last year, founders Roth Martin and Stephen Hawthornthwaite see physical locations as an opportunity to connect with their consumers more than the brand already does online.

“Our customer base is still quite small, and awareness of our brand is very low. We’re only DTC except for one store — and we’re only in the U.S.,” the exec told FN in March. “Our first has been a total success. The economics of it are great, but using it as a listening device to make better product is what it’s about. That’s the future of retail.”

Rothy’s olive Camo loafer
CREDIT: Courtesy of company

That strategy will be disciplined to allow it to focus on each location while rolling out exclusives and differentiating product. For instance, each new store will launch with a special, one-of-a-kind shoe.

The initial retail locations will be in New York’s West Village, Boston’s Newbury Street, Washington D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, and Los Angeles, which the brand said are its four highest-penetration markets. The New York, Boston and D.C. posts will open first, with two L.A. stores to follow.

In the midst of expansion, however, Rothy’s has no plans for wholesale. Martin described wholesale as letting a friend raise your kids. “It’s owning what’s ours and having the customer journey be ours. I don’t want anyone in the middle,” he said.

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