Vancouver-Based DTC Waterproof Shoe Brand Vessi Opening 1st Permanent Store [Interview]


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Vancouver waterproof footwear brand Vessi is opening this month its first ever permanent store at the Metropolis at Metrotown.

Vessi is one of North America’s fastest growing sneaker companies. Founded in 2018, its mission is to inspire happiness in all-weather by creating everyday wear that gets people out there, rain or shine. They’ve built up a loyal fan base and have become one of Vancouver’s most beloved brands, and have sold over 1,000,000 pairs of sneakers.

Mikaella Go, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer, said the idea of Vessi came to the three Vancouver founders of the company who quite simply had it with the rainy weather.

Mikaella Go

So they set out to create a totally waterproof sneaker that not only kept their socks dry, but kept their feet sweat-free, comfortable and looking stylish.

“Although our journey started out with the problem of rain-soaked socks, what we ended up with is a sneaker worth taking everywhere. Whether it’s a sunny day or a stormy one, you’re at home, headed to work or visiting someplace new, in a pair of Vessis you’re always ready for anything,” say the founders on the company’s website.

Future Vessi Storefront in Metropolis at Metrotown (Rendering: Vessi)
Image: Vessi at Metrotown

The company was launched on Kickstarter and has been an online business since then. 

“It really validated that people did want a product like Vessi,” said Go. “We started off with one style. Now we have six different styles that are completely waterproof.

“We are slowly trying to penetrate the US market and we’re opening our first retail store here in Vancouver. It’s really exciting for us. We wanted to do it before COVID but unfortunately we weren’t able to do it. So this is a really big milestone for Vessi as a company to be able to really interact with the customers in person and be able to offer Vessi’s impression.”

In the past Vessi has done a couple of pop-up locations in Vancouver and Toronto. 

Image: Vessi
Image: Vessi

The permanent location in Metropolis will open in the Upper Level next to Armani Exchange, occupying the former Call It Spring space.

“We actually sent out a survey to our customers asking them where they want us to show up at. I think for us it’s really about our community and figuring out where to go from there – what products we make, where we show up. And Metrotown was one of the top three,” said Go.

“And then we took a look at the space and it just really felt like it checked a lot of the boxes that we were looking for. We love the space. We’re really excited to move into it.

“This is our first go at it for physical stores. But we do have plans opening up either a pop-up store or other permanent stores across Canadian cities and we’re also currently building our presence in key markets across the US. Pop-ups there as well. We’ve also entered a couple of wholesale accounts in the States such as Nordstrom. Our ultimate goal is to be able to give people access to Vessi in person and online.”

David Garbuz of brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap is representing Vessi in its Canadian store expansion, with other locations said to be in the works.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


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