Men’s fitness apparel retailer Rhone is a shining example of a direct-to-consumer brand that has grown out of its internet-only days into the complex world of retail and wholesale partnerships. On top of its thriving online business, the five-year-old brand has four retail stores (three in New York City and one in Connecticut) and has current retail partnerships with Equinox, Peloton, Nordstrom, REI, JackRabbit and more than 350 gyms and specialty stores across the country.
As such, Rhone no longer considers itself a company just getting off the ground, and therefore feels pigeon-holed when being described as ‘direct-to-consumer’ brand, a term which Nate Checketts, CEO and co-founder of Rhone, says is automatically associated with being a startup.
“Direct-to-consumer is something that is often misunderstood,” he says, speaking to Ad Age during Advertising Week. “People associate direct-to-consumer as a startup brand right now, but really it just means that you have a channel or the majority of your business is being sold directly to the customer.”
To that end, Rhone considers itself an “omni-retail” brand, even though the majority of the brand’s revenue still comes from online, Checketts says. Being direct-to-consumer is more of a “mindset,” he adds, explaining that Rhone is very selective when it comes to selecting wholesale retail partners and expects them to offer a customer experience that matches the high standards of its own online experience.
“Really it’s about creating that same level of standard, of how we treat our customers, how we interact with our customers, in every channel that we do,” says Checketts.
Checketts says Rhone decided to move into the physical retail space to allow customers to try on the clothes and get real-time feedback. He says the conversion rate from someone coming in and trying on a piece of clothing, to making a purchase, is 70 percent.
“We have a crazy high conversion rate when somebody just puts the product on, and so it gives us an opportunity from a marketing standpoint and an advertising standpoint to acquire customers [at a] really efficient cost.”