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Q&A: Dolce Vita steps out with NYC flagship as its eyes physical growth

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Dolce Vita is prepping for its next stage of growth.

The on-trend, affordable footwear brand Dolce Vita, which debuted online in 2001, has opened a flagship in the heart of New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. It’s the direct-to-consumer and wholesale brand’s second physical store, with its first location in Los Angeles. (Dolce Vita was purchased by Steve Madden in 2014 for $60.3 million.)

The approximately 2,000 sq. ft. flagship is on the corner of Broome Street and Broadway, and only two subway stops away from the retailer's corporate offices. The store interior has a contemporary New York feel, with exposed brick walls,  iron beams, light wood flooring and a neutral color scheme. A curved, cream-colored middle-island fixture with built-in seating is designed to allow shoppers to be immersed by the product. Cream-colored chairs with plush cushions complete the look. 

According to a company release, the design team was inspired by a combination of abstract art and modern architecture to “make the store feel not only like a piece of art, but a gathering space for customers and friends of the brand.” 

Chain Store Ages Deena Amato-McCoy spoke with Dolce Vita’s president Kerry Norlin about the SoHo location and the brand’s expansion plans.

Why is now the right time to pursue a physical store strategy?

Throughout the pandemic, we were lucky to see an upward trajectory in our DTC business and soon after, we saw an explosion in wholesale as well. Now that everyone is out in the world again, we want to use our retail stores to intimately connect our customers to the product they know and love. 

Our shoppers are very familiar with our brand on social media and we have created a community. We want to emulate that personal experience they are familiar with online within our physical stores. 

Why did you select New York City for your new flagship location? 

We introduced our Los Angeles store on Melrose Avenue in August 2022. Since everyone knows that New York City is one of the best places in the world to shop, we believed opening a store in the heart of the city — where we’re currently based — was the natural next step. We will also be close enough for all our employees almost daily to stop by to watch the customer experience and listen to their needs.

Who is the New York City Dolce Vita customer? 

She is between 25 and 34 years old, effortless and marches to the beat of her own drum. She follows trends and has a modern, individual style. She cares deeply about her community and naturally, inclusivity is top of mind for her. 

How are you attracting your New York customers to the store? 

We’re targeting customers through word of mouth and “New York-style” guerrilla marketing. This includes wild postings [colorful posters that are targeted to specific neighborhoods] to stencil ads [on New York City streets] — we want to add these [messages] everywhere you can find us. 

We’re also curating events and activations on a rolling basis. This will target those customers who already know us, and those who are just passing though.   

How does the new store fit into your goals for the future? 

Situated in one of the best areas to shop in New York City, both for locals and tourists, we hope this new store will create more brand awareness and tap into that customer base we might not have been targeting previously. Our goal would be to add pop-up stores and expand in new locations where people want to see us.

What is Dolce Vitas current retail expansion plan? 

We expect our SoHo store to give us insight into store format, product assortment and most importantly, customer experience. Once we have an understanding of our customer and their needs, we will then pursue expanding the brand to all major markets.

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