Del Toro, on paper, has the making for something potentially big. The formerly Miami-based, predominantly men’s footwear line has new management and a glistening roster of investors that includes athletes such as Carmelo Anthony backing a new strategy.
It’s go time now as the company — with sales under $10 million and men making up roughly 80 percent of the business today — rewinds back to a start-up mentality looking to launch into capsules of apparel and accessories later this year, in addition to a content site and eventually a new spin on the department store concept farther out.
“Del Toro for me was a no-brainer,” Anthony said in an e-mailed comment. “It incorporates aspects of style that are important to me. When the opportunity came for me to get involved, I was all in. This relationship is unique in that we all really enjoy creating together. We are working on some really special moments that we hope will be received well.”
The rest of the investor roster is long and includes brothers Joel and Josh Madden of music artist management company MDDN and the former also part of the band Good Charlotte; LeBron James’ manager and businessman Maverick Carter; Paul Rivera; Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors; Andre Branch of the Miami Dolphins; Nate Forbes, president and managing partner of The Forbes Company and vice chair of the Cleveland Cavaliers; and Relevent Sports chief executive officer Daniel Sillman.
Stephen Ippolito, who previously served as Bandier president and another Del Toro investor, was tapped to be ceo of the footwear firm in July. With him, came business partner and vice president of development Andrew Forbes and the rest of the founding group — creative director Meghan Floyd, chief operating officer Joseph Park and vice president of merchandising Morgan Peerman — to, as Ippolito told it, “really put our stamp on the business.”
“When we looked at all the businesses out there and how people are doing things, they are still going back to the old sales trade of ‘Let me go out and create product’ and then let’s figure out as a group how to market it,” he said. “With that, over time, we’re taking what is a heritage shoe brand, lining it up as extensions into accessories, into apparel and other things as a lifestyle brand but really segueing into what we’re calling as a movement ‘Dynamic Truth.’”
Del Toro’s new team is coming at it from the opposite angle where the focus is on building the brand and content first because the end goal is to reach “lifestyle brand” status — it’s something many attempt, but the ability to win over discerning Millennials and Gen Zers as authentic is another story.
Early next year the company will release its first garments and new spins on footwear. That release — totaling nine stockkeeping units for men and women — will hit in January.
“We always talk about dressing people from toe to head because our heritage is a footwear brand,” said Andrew Forbes.
Pricing is around $55 for T-shirts, hoodies for $160, joggers start around $155 and a jacket for $295.
The company already moved headquarters from Miami to New York, where the executive team was already based. A media content site, called DT Society, is set to launch toward the end of next year and will be a place for posts on technology, politics, art, science and other topics generated by paid freelancers. That group is expected to total anywhere from 50 to 100 writers, according to Ippolito.
The line is currently sold in more than 100 doors, including retailers such as Moda Operandi. However, distribution, much like the rest of the business, is being revamped with an eye, moving forward, on building out the direct-to-consumer division.
The company is also working on creating a retail concept that Ippolito said is a new spin on the department store. It will be a multibranded space for men and women in real estate the company would likely own. A distinct name — that’s not Del Toro or DT Society — is being batted around. Retail would serve as an incubator for outside brands Del Toro could potentially take ownership stakes in.
“There is that chance to give a brand a breath of fresh air to where, over time, what we may wind up doing is find other businesses that align with our messaging that should come underneath our umbrella,” Ippolito said. “We’re not looking to take majority stakes in businesses, but we’ll take minority interests and we’ll use that synergistic approach of common ground.”
The point, Forbes further explained on whatever the retail ends up looking like, is “we’re going to try and build out something that creates a deeper relationship or bond with the consumer, other than them just identifying with the brands that are popular at the store.”