Foot Locker throws $12M into kids apparel startup
Foot Locker announced Tuesday it made a $12.5 million minority investment in Launch Kids, which does business as Rockets of Awesome. The children's apparel company, which offers a seasonal subscription service in addition to its e-commerce offerings, is based out of New York and has price points between $16 and $38, according to a company press release.
Foot Locker's investment is part of a Series C funding round for the company, which raised a total amount of $19.5 million. The fresh capital for Rockets of Awesome comes in addition to $29.5 million the company has raised through other funding rounds, per Crunchbase.
As part of the partnership, Rockets of Awesome will be available on the Kids Foot Locker website and through shop-in-shops within Kids Foot Locker stores, making Foot Locker the largest retailer of Rockets of Awesome products in the U.S., according to the release.
It's been a busy year so far for Foot Locker. The athletics retailer started off 2019 with a $3 million investment in Super Heroic, a kids footwear startup founded by two former Nike execs, and earlier this month announced a $100 million investment in sneaker company GOAT Group.
Both moves point to a larger strategy for the athletics retailer, one which seems to be focused on spicing up stores by offering customers exclusive collections and experiences. The partnership with GOAT Group specifically touts "exclusive customer experiences," and a similar thread can be followed through other recent investments Foot Locker has made in the category, including with women's activewear brand Carbon38 and footwear design academy Pensole, through which Foot Locker will collaborate on educational programs and help students design and manufacture shoes for its brands.
But Foot Locker has also made other moves this year to show it's serious about honing in on experience. In particular, the retailer debuted a new store concept, the "Power Store," in Michigan late January and also paired up with Nike for a series of pop-ups aimed at taking advantage of key moments during the NBA season.
More than improving the in-store experience, though, Foot Locker's most recent investment shows that it's serious about focusing on the children's sector, with two partnerships in the space in as many months.
The children's apparel space has experienced some fluctuation in the past year or so, with Gymboree filing for its second bankruptcy in two years. Lululemon significantly pulled back on its Ivivva girls brand in 2017, while Athleta launched its own girls brand in 2016. Through Foot Locker's investments in the space, the retailer might be positioning itself to better compete with both those performance-based competitors and more streetwear-style rivals.
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