In a graveyard of bricks and mortar retailers, e-commerce's Rhone gets physical

By Eleanor TerrettRetailFOXBusiness

Rhone active-wear goes from e-commerce to bricks and mortar

Rhone Co-Founder and CEO Nate Checketts discusses the inspiration behind the active-wear startup company with FOX Business’ Gerri Willis at the New York Stock Exchange.

With the boom in e-commerce and more and more retailers opting for online presences over physical ones, it’s rare to see a company going against the grain.

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But active-wear startup Rhone is giving customers a reason to walk into its stores.

“Because the product is so good and so comfortable, we want people to be able to touch it and try it,” Rhone Co-Founder and CEO Nate Checketts told FOX Business’ Gerri Willis on Thursday.

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From what started as an online-only men’s active-wear brand, Rhone is now expanding and setting up physical stores in New York City.

But making the move into bricks and mortar is still very much a stand-alone trend. According to IBM’s 2019 Retail Forecast, online shopping will increase close to 10 percent this year, while bricks and mortar retail will drop a further 6 percent. If more people are shopping online, why bother with the cost and upkeep of a store?

The same IBM study also finds that consumers still go to physical stores to shop for items that make them look good or feel better about themselves such as clothing, health and beauty products. Rhone fits the criteria.

Marketed toward high-income active men, the company boasts an inventory of “look good, feel good” products. In fact, its latest offering is a dress shirt made of the same stretchy material found in athletic clothing. Disguised as an every-day cotton shirt, it fits and feels like a nylon workout top. “If I just came across this shirt online, I probably wouldn’t buy it,” a trader at the New York Stock Exchange said. “But after feeling it and trying it on, I was sold. I don’t think anything beats actually physically trying on clothes.”

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While this sentiment may not be enough to save physical retailers completely, it suggests there is still a demand for it.

Companies like Rhone who offer as much of a physical shopping experience as an aesthetic one could be a glimmer of hope for brick and mortar retail.

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