Despite more than a year of unpredictability on the physical retail front, Rothy’s is doubling down on brick-and-mortar — quite literally.
The company told FN that it plans to open six new stores across the U.S. this year and in early 2022 — that’s in addition to its current six locations. Rothy’s retail will launch for the first time in Pasadena and San Jose, Calif., Atlanta and Scottsdale, Ariz. And the brand will expand its presence in Los Angeles and New York, which currently have stores.
First up is a second outpost in Los Angeles. Rothy’s will debut a store in the Larchmont neighborhood this month. Then in October, another New York location will be added, in the Nolita area, to complement its existing shop in the West Village. (Other current locations are in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.)
“We really look where our existing customers are and where there’s opportunity to reach new customers. All of our stores are located in cities that have a healthy blend of both existing and potential new customers and we have great penetration in those cities,” said Rothy’s COO Heather Skidmore Howard.
She added, “Establishing a strong physical footprint in key cities is an important part of our strategy. We view brick-and-mortar expansion as a key part of our enduring success for future growth. We are also eager to provide more ways for our community to shop by offering the ease and convenience of a physical store in addition to our online storefronts.”
While the brand is aggressive on its store expansion, Rothy’s launched in 2016 as an online direct-to-consumer brand, specializing in sustainable shoes made out of discarded plastic bottles and created with a 3-D knitting process that uses the exact amount of material needed.
Part of the label’s success came from word of mouth, accounting for 50% of sales traffic. By growing its retail footprint, Howard said entering these new cities and communities will only enhance that word-of-mouth tactic.
“Brick-and-mortar also gives us an opportunity to educate our customers on the Rothy’s story of the recycled materials that we use to make our products, vertically integrated supply chain and wholly owned factory,” she added, noting that each store offers customer exclusives that can’t be found elsewhere. “There’s so much to learn about our brand and see and touch, and by having physical stores, we’re able to bring all of that to light.”
Outside of retail, Rothy’s also has been expanding its product categories as well. In May, the brand launched men’s shoes.
According to co-founder and CEO Stephen Hawthornthwaite, the men’s category was always on its roadmap.
“It has consistently been our most requested category since we launched,” Hawthornthwaite said at the time of the launch. “We see huge potential for its growth — on a comparable trajectory to our women’s business. We recognize that there is a growing demand in the men’s market for stylish, sustainable footwear. Just as we’ve pushed for a more sustainable future in the women’s market, we’re proud to continue paving the way for sustainable innovation in a new category.”
Last year, the brand also introduced more than 30 new silhouettes, 250 colorways and entered the handbag category, which contributed just under 10% of total sales last year. And Rothy’s is furthering its commitment to sustainability, announcing in March that it pledges to reach circular production by 2023.