Hush Puppies has announced that it will exclusively wholesale all of its products with DSW — ending relationships with hundreds of wholesale accounts across North America. The partnership is meant to increase Hush Puppies’ brand awareness and retail presence across North America.
Under the three-year agreement, DSW will be the sole wholesale and brick-and-mortar distributor of the Hush Puppies brand in North America beginning in 2022. Hush Puppies, a division of Wolverine Worldwide and Designer Brands Inc., will continue to sell products through its e-commerce site, Hushpuppies.com.
The brand has a strong international presence, with over 500 brand-owned retail stores across the globe. But with no brand-owned stores in North America and a desire to hone in on e-commerce capabilities, Hush Puppies GM and VP Kate Pinkham said the DSW partnership was a way to “jumpstart” sales in the region.
North American sales had been distributed evenly across Hushpuppies.com, wholesale e-commerce sites, and wholesale brick-and-mortar stores.
“This is an amazing opportunity to be able to get the brand into over 600 [DSW] stores in North America,” Pinkham said. “And really just convert our really high awareness into sales, and to help consumers know where they can find it.”
While Hush Puppies had already sold products through DSW and DSW.com, the new partnership will expand its presence with the retailer. It will also allow consumers to make any Hush Puppies returns at DSW stores.
As part of the announcement, Hush Puppies is terminating its existing wholesale partnerships with hundreds of other wholesale accounts across North America, including Amazon, Zappos, Nordstrom.com, as well as smaller independent shoe stores. The move, confirmed by Pinkham, highlights a general industry trend towards slimming down wholesale accounts to strategic partners and focusing on direct-to-consumer and e-commerce sales.
Other footwear companies such as Crocs, Nike, and Under Armour have made similar moves in recent months. In April, Crocs said it was ending business relationships with some of its long-time wholesalers to prioritize key partners that can elevate the brand’s position in the marketplace. This came shortly after Nike made similar moves to terminate wholesale accounts with Zappos, Dillard’s, DSW, Urban Outfitters, Shoe Show and more retailers.
In addition to expanding Hush Puppies’ store presence, Pinkham believes the partnership will propel a common goal for Hush Puppies and DSW regarding e-commerce growth, which both brands are looking to strengthen.
“We’re similar to DSW,” Pinkham said. “We’re really invested in growing our digital penetration, and they are too.”