When San Francisco-based Rothy’s launched in 2016, it had one product: a ballet flat, made from recycled plastic, which came in both a $125 round toe and $145 pointed silhouette. It quickly became a cult product around the country, but there was just one problem: if you loved the shoe, you couldn’t wear it in the colder months.
This year, Rothy’s is making a concerted effort to meet the needs of consumers who love the brand but find that the flats don’t really keep their feet warm in fall and winter. In September, the brand launched its first boot, called the Chelsea, which uses the same recycled plastic upper to cover the foot all the way to the ankle. This style was so popular that it quickly sold out.
This month, the brand has launched an entirely new material that’s a blend of 75% merino wool and 25% recycled plastic. Rothy’s has made all of its core styles, including the new Chelsea boot, in this material. The brand sourced the merino from Tollegno 1900, an Italian company with a farm in Australia that produces wool from free-roaming herds and shears sheep with an eye to animal welfare. The wool is then milled in Biella, Italy, at Tollegno 1900’s factory that uses hydro and solar power in the factory. The brand says it developed this new material to feel warmer and more cozy on the foot during the fall and winter.
Rothy’s evolution mirrors that of Allbirds, another eco-friendly shoe brand based in San Francisco. Allbirds launched with merino wool sneakers but customers began requesting a version of the shoe that could be worn in the summer months. In response, Allbirds developed it’s Tree collection, which is made from TENCEL Lyocell, which itself is made from tree pulp. It also recently launched a version of its sneakers that are water-repellent, so they are appropriate for light rain. Both Rothy’s and Allbirds made a splash by selling a single iconic shoe style, but to keep growing, they need to keep innovating and developing shoes that can be worn all year-round.
This week, Rothy’s also launched a limited-edition version of its wool shoes made in collaboration with the Italian designer Marta Ferri. The shoes come in interesting patterns like colorblocks and gingham prints.