Roots Makes Major Announcements as it Transforms Operations, Including Appointing New ‘Creative Director in Residence’ [Interview]

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As it celebrates its 50th year in business Canadian retailer Roots has been busy recently with a number of announcements to grow its business.

Roots has partnered with Stadium Live, a leading platform for Gen Z sports, culture and entertainment fans, to deliver a collection of unique digital branded experiences for users.

The retailer has also partnered with NewStore, a modular, mobile-first omnichannel cloud platform for retail brands worldwide, launching the Omnichannel Platform across its digital properties and network of more than 100 retail stores throughout Canada and the U.S.

Roots at 80 Bloor St W (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Roots at 80 Bloor St W (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

And the global apparel lifestyle brand has appointed Joey Gollish as a Creative Director in Residence for a period expected to extend through 2025. This appointment represents the first time in Roots’ almost 50-year history that it has welcomed an outside creative to the brand. 

Meghan Roach

“As we strive to continue expanding our brand, we understand the importance of connecting with digital audiences. With Stadium Live, we can integrate the physical and digital realms to engage more effectively with the crucial Gen Z demographic,” said Meghan Roach, President & CEO of Roots. “We are excited to provide our customers with an immersive experience that allows them to fully engage with our brand and products on a deeper level.”

Roach said the partnership with Stadium Live is a way for the brand to connect with a different type of consumer including Gen Z. She said Roots has always been a brand heavily associated with sports. 

“So for us it made a lot of sense to partner with a group like Stadium Live who is doing something in the virtual and digital landscape,” she said. 

“This is the first brand partnership that Stadium Live has done.”

Stadium Live

Stadium Live users will have access to exclusive Roots branded activations throughout the platform. The partnership will debut a digital apparel and accessories collection launching in the Stadium Live Roots store, as well as physical apparel – inspired by the digital-first collection.

The first-of-its-kind partnership between the two brands aims to provide Gen Z users with a unique and differentiated way to interact and engage with the Roots brand. Stadium Live’s platform ensures a seamless experience from physical to digital, allowing Roots to extend their brand exposure beyond the physical and explore new ways of engaging with digital customers in a virtual setting.

Stadium Live’s innovative digital platform has attracted over 750,000 registered Gen Z users across North America. Users participate in sports-focused gameplay and live streams, collect unique items and prizes, chat and make friends with other fans, and customize their in-game avatar.

Kevin Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of Stadium Live, said the activation provides an authentic medium for Roots to drive brand awareness and revenue through next-gen sports fans.

“Our platform offers the perfect opportunity for brands to connect with our audience in a way that feels native to them through digital gamified experiences,” he said.

Roots at Yorkdale Shopping Centre (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Roots has 121 stores operating across Canada as permanent locations and popups. Roach said the retailer opened seven stores, including popups in 2022 and closed four stores in 2022.

“It’s our 50th year in August and we continue to evolve. We’re continuing to grow the brand and we’re trying to make sure that people continue to think Roots is an iconic brand for the next 50 years and to do that you’ve got to keep changing and thinking about what’s happening in the landscape,” she said.

Roach said the retailer has discovered in the past couple of years opportunities in the marketplace for space being left behind by other retailers who were leaving. This has given the brand an opportunity to open popups where it can expand its footprint as well as promote the kids’ brand. In some locations, a regular Roots store is paired with a kids’ popup.

“What we found in those locations is those stores, the combination, are doing more than just a single store,” said Roach.

“We will continue to focus on the popup strategy.”

Image: Roots
Roots at 80 Bloor St W (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Roots is now using the NewStore order management and store fulfillment solutions to reduce shipping times, improve inventory accuracy, and maximize inventory sell-through across the enterprise.

The company said the NewStore order management and store fulfillment solutions use proprietary routing logic to allocate order requests across Roots’ brick-and-mortar locations and distribution centers according to the brand’s desired prioritization criteria. This allows Roots to improve customer service levels and manage shipping costs by directing orders to the appropriate store or distribution center. NewStore is also supporting omnichannel capabilities like buy online return in-store (BORIS), further improving the customer experience while driving foot traffic.

Roach said the platform was implemented in the Roots’ stores initially to help the brand with fulfillment.

“Roots is a brand where we are significantly integrated from an omnichannel perspective,” she said. “We look at our online and instore platforms really together. We have one inventory and we use all of our stores as performance hubs.

“NewStore is a technology that allows us to further fine tune that and in the longer term helps us serve the customer in these ways.”

“As an iconic Canadian brand, Roots is held to a higher standard by its fiercely loyal customers. With NewStore, Roots’ store associates now have the tools they need to create amazing shopping experiences anytime, anywhere,” said Stephan Schambach, Founder and CEO, NewStore. “They are one of the many great Canadian brands leading the way for omnichannel retailers everywhere, and their decision to partner with NewStore is a reflection of the activity we are continuing to see in that market.” 

Joey Gollish joins Roots Canada as New Creative Director in Residence.

The appointment of Joey Gollish, Founder and Creative Director of fashion label Mr. Saturday, as Roots’ Creative Director in Residence is a way for the brand to stay innovative and forward-looking in today’s ever-changing market, said Roach.

“Through our collaboration with Mr. Saturday in December 2022, we found that Joey had a deep love for the Roots brand and a unique perspective that will support our long-term objective of increasing the brand’s global appeal,” she said. “We look forward to the exciting opportunities this additional creative influence will bring to Roots.”

Mr. Saturday and Roots have worked closely together on a range of collaborations over the past two years, including the best-selling capsule collection “Roots Saturday Airlines,” released at the end of last year. Gollish has also worked in collaboration with Roots on leather outerwear, travel bags, and accessories for Mr. Saturday’s Fall/Winter 2023 runway show in Paris and will once again integrate Roots into Mr. Saturday’s Spring/Summer 2024 for Paris Fashion Week. The creative synergies Roots and Mr. Saturday experienced working on these projects led to the vision for this unique partnership, said the company.

“I think for me because we’ve been working together nationally for so long, working hand in hand with the Roots’ team to create products not only for my own collection but collaboratively with them for the past couple of years, getting to know the brand and the entire team and really learning more about the heritage and the future vision for the brand, it just felt like the opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t think of a reason not to do it,” said Gollish.

At just 29 years old, Gollish is one of the most celebrated and exciting designers coming out of Canada right now, said Roots. Recently named Canada’s 2022 Menswear Designer of The Year by Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards, Gollish was also featured as one of the “New Names to Know” by Vogue and “1 of 20 Canadians Shaping the Next 20 Years of Culture” by Complex. 

He is also the winner of 4 Cannes Lions awards and a member of the inaugural cohort of HXOUSE – Toronto’s next generation creative incubator and accelerator founded by the Weeknd, La Mar Taylor, and Ahmed Ismael.

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. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

1 COMMENT

  1. Love your Roots article, having been a fan through the years, this is exactly what Roots needs to expand and create more loyal customers. Of course, it would be terrific for sales and the bottom line to push up the valuation of Roots as a whole. This new direction should make it happen.

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