Rothy’s is making a splash ahead of Milan Fashion Week and diving deeper into the collaboration game. The flats brand has teamed up with rising Italian designer Marta Ferri for an eco-friendly wool capsule that debuts tonight at 10 Corso Como in Milan. Next month, it will launch stateside in New York.
Rothy’s continues to emerge as one of the fastest-growing footwear labels in the U.S. — thanks to word-of-mouth buzz and a sustainability story that has resonated with consumers. But internationally, the brand, which makes its shoes from recycled plastic water bottles, is just getting started. That’s where Ferri comes in.
“[The capsule styles] are Italian, feminine and winter versions of Rothy’s,” Ferri told FN. “The shoes have a proper inner sole, so they’re super comfortable like a sneaker. And you can throw them in the washing machine.”
The loafer and ballerina silhouettes, which both feature a trendy square-toe shape, are part of Rothy’s larger push into no-impact, merino wool styles. The label is partnering with Italian mill Tollegno 1900, a textile leader known for its sustainable practices, craftsmanship and fine high-quality wool.
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“They are not a company that has only recently embraced sustainability. They have been doing it for 30 to 40 years,” said Rothy’s co-founder Roth Martin, who has been friendly with the three brothers who run Tollegno for some time.
Ferri said she relished the chance to dig into Tollegno’s archives to create the colorful collection, which focuses on bright pastels, mélanges and classic pinks and reds.
“What I love about my way of doing fashion is the process of it, the artisanal part,” said Ferri, who has made a name for herself in interior design, ready-to-wear, shoes and more.
Ferri, who in 2018 was named one of WWD’s “40 of Tomorrow,” most recently partnered with Sergio Rossi on its SR Addiction capsule.
The Rothy’s collection with Ferri marks the brand’s second collaborative project. This summer, the label teamed up with illustrator Pete Oswald. A father of three, Oswald outfitted the brand’s knit children’s sneaker with four animal motifs: a cat, an orangutan, flamingos and elephants.
The label’s moves to expand beyond the core business is just one way it is tackling new territory. “Our customer base is still quite small, and awareness of our brand is very low. … We’re only in the U.S.,” co-founder Stephen Hawthornthwaite told FN in March.
While its business has been largely driven by e-commerce and one San Francisco store, the label is opening five additional retail units this fall — with more to come in 2020 —to further acquire new customers. Last year, Rothy’s sold more than 1 million pairs of shoes, generating revenue of more than $140 million.
It enters the wool shoe market at a time when fellow San Francisco-based startup Allbirds continues to lead that market. The two brands have both been lauded by many industry insiders for their sustainability efforts at a time when the eco conversation is dominant across the industry.
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