How Apparel and Footwear Brands Can Increase DTC Sales

Apparel and footwear brands are uniquely positioned to lead the DTC revolution. We look at how it will work.

What Does Direct to Consumer Mean in 2021?

At face value, DTC is the same as it’s always been — brands selling products and services directly to consumers with no retailer or other middleman involved in the process. But things aren’t quite so simple.

Is DTC a Sales Channel or a Category?

Until recently, this was also a fairly easy question to answer: DTC was a sales channel. For example, adidas sells many of its shoes through retailers, online and off. Footlocker, Zappos, wherever. But they also leverage DTC sales channels, selling and shipping directly to consumers on, or in an adidas retail store.

Today, DTC is a Channel and a Category

The line between DTC as a channel and a category today is blurry. Walmart bought Bonobos, but the brand is not sold in Walmart stores; you can buy Bonobos on You can buy products from famed DTC brand Harry’s in Target. Outdoor Voices got some early major exposure with popup shops in J. Crew stores. You can still buy from all these brands directly, as well.

Direct Sales: Important and Getting More Important

All of this illustrates the importance of direct sales, and companies large and small are working to grow their direct channels. The pandemic has served as an accelerator for this importance of direct. Ecommerce as a percentage of total retail sales was 15% prior to the pandemic; that number has now grown to 25–30% — numbers which weren’t expected to be hit for a decade.

Apparel and Footwear Brands Have a Head Start on Direct

Apparel and footwear have consistently ranked at or among the top online sales categories for many years. Because consumers are already more comfortable purchasing fashion products online, the industry is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the shift to direct sales.

Nike Did It

What It All Comes Down To: Consumer Experience

Selling direct clearly has many advantages, and they all come together to create a better consumer experience.

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