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FFANY Preview: BucketFeet’s Omnichannel Expansion

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BucketFeet’s artist-designed sneakers are quickly climbing in popularity. The company raised $7.5 million in a Series A round of funding at the beginning of the year. One of the uses for this capital has been opening more physical stores. As the brand increases its presence through brick-and-mortar stores and wholesale accounts, they are not only creating more retail opportunities, but also a more rounded experience of the brand.

Since BucketFeet has traditionally made most of its sales online, adding brick-and-mortar locations has been an important way for the brand to expand its presence. The company opened its first New York location this winter on Elizabeth Street, following in the footsteps of Toms’s, Rainbow Sandals, Wolverine and more.

Raaja Nemani, CEO and co-founder of BucketFeet, said, “As we thought about our customer being young, hip, wanting to stand out, culturally curious, a little adventurous, we felt this was a really great location for us.”

Nemani highlighted the Elizabeth Street store’s importance as a more immersive experience that presents custom products and a larger selection than their wholesale accounts. The store can also more prominently display the work of the artists who have designed for them. There are prints for sale in the store, and every month there is a changing mural behind the cash register. The display of the art allows the customer to see the how pieces translate from the wall to their shoe.

“It’s almost the best of both worlds between what we’re able to do online and what we’re able to do in wholesale,” Nemani said. “I think now brands are expected to be omnichannel.”

The company has also been reaching more wholesalers, though the online business remains much larger. Nemani said, “With wholesale, our strategy is really about making sure we build the right brand.”

Nemani wants to work with stores that understand their concept and will represent the brand correctly. BucketFeet conveys their story with point-of-purchase displays and hangtags featuring the shoe’s artist, their location and their picture.

BucketFeet is currently available at select majors, including Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor, but they have been focusing on connecting with independent stores like DNA Footwear, Shoegasm and LF Stores.

For Fall ’15, the brand will present styles in linens, cottons and leather, and in high-top and slip-on sneaker silhouettes. BucketFeet will be debuting some new materials: new leathers, shearling lining and felt lining. Highlights of the collection include the Chicago, a slip-on style covered with an impressionist cityscape; the Giraffe, a low-top with a bold, painterly animal print; and Baskerville 4, a brown leather high-top with a printed cuff.

There are also some brand expansions planned. BucketFeet continue to grow their kids’ line, which will both share styles with the adult line and present exclusive designs for children. For Spring ’16, the brand will introduce two new silhouettes: a ballet flat sneaker for women and laceless sneakers.

BucketFeet is now in 25 countries. This year, the company’s revenue is anticipated to grow five times larger than profits for 2014. The company is gaining traction abroad, however, sales in the U.S. will represent 75 percent of BucketFeet’s business this year.

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