Fresh from his apprenticeship designing for NYC retailer David Z, Ronnie Fieg recently opened his own store in Brooklyn. Named KITH, it'll sell everything from sneakers to high-end leather shoes, and of course you can expect to see Ronnie’s fingerprints all over his renowned co-branded products, such as the ‘Salmon Toe’ Gel Lyte IIIs which dropped this past weekend. Check out a sneak-peek at those below and enjoy our exclusive interview with Ronnie. Time for the new generation to take over!
Hey Ronnie, you guys survive the hurricane ok?
Yo, we got a hurricane and a fucking earthquake in the same week, I feel like Dennis Quaid in The Day After Tomorrow. But in all seriousness, everything is good. There were some trees down, wind and some rain, but nothing too serious. I heard Jersey got it bad. Thoughts go out to those guys.You just split with David Z to launch your own store. What's the gossip behind the move?
Store? As in one? Ha. If you want gossip you have to watch Jersey Shore, we aren't about all that nonsense. No gossip really. I just felt it was time to move on. My 16 years working for David Z was priceless and crucial to gaining a perspective on the footwear industry as a whole. I am grateful for that and left on good terms, but it was time. At this point of my life, I've gained a following for my product and felt that it was the right time to follow my ultimate goal which was to open my own shop.
Everybody's closing down! Are you crazy?
Crazy? That's definitely debatable. I won't let you ask my co-workers that question because I am scared of what they'll say. You're right though, everyone is closing down shops. I am opening up because I feel there's a void in the market. There isn't a shop for quality men's footwear. And I'm not talking about sneakers, I'm talking about the industry as a whole. Where can you go get ill sneakers and some brown shoes or boots? Nowhere, that's what KITH is going to be, that one-stop shop.
What the hell is Kith?
Kith is part of the phrase ‘kith and kin', which means friends and family. That's what the concept is all about. ‘Just Us' is the slogan behind the brand, it was important for me to portray how limited every piece will be. ‘Kithset' is our crew and it's made up of 10 extremely talented individuals that I've had the pleasure of working with for some time now. I have talented photographers in SQ and Vagrant as well as an amazing videographer in Adam Z, who will also run the city store, one of the most talented graphic designers in Mark Stewart, the best web developer and young genius Andy Oliver, a new brand and marketing manager Nick Annacone, as well as a few more individuals that are on the rise. If you are active on Twitter you most likely already know most of these kids, bringing them together will result in what's coming.
How much of your stock will be your own designs?
Expect a takeover! I have been working around the clock to design as much stuff as possible for the store. Between now and next year, I have my capsule lines with Sebago, a new deal in the works with Dr. Martens and ASICS, as well as projects with Quoddy, Clarks, Chippewa, New Balance, Caminando and... man, there are too many. As far as inline stuff goes, I will have a lot of that as well, but only the best stuff from the best brands. Quality, quality, quality! KITH will also release collaborative clothing and accessories, something I've been working on for almost a year. Pendleton, Shades of Grey, Herschel, Goldenbear, Oetzi3300, Four Stroke, Quintin, Good Wood and a many others. Thinking about all these projects makes my head hurt, man.
I bet. Your track record, especially with Gel Lytes is impeccable. Tell us about the Salmon Toes?
Thanks man. Yeah, the Gel Lytes have done well. Funny story, when I was like nine, I wanted the Reebok Pumps so bad, I cried to my mom outside of the local spot in Great Neck to get them for me. She finally gave in and went in to buy them, but she came out with a pair of Gel Lyte IIIs, which I cried even more about haha. But I ended up loving them and rocking them forever. I've worked on quite a few, but these Salmon Toes are special. The colorway and quality of materials are just so crazy, and I have had people begging me to drop these ever since I gave away that 1-of-1 sample way back when. I am going to make this a very, very special release.
And the Leatherbacks?
Those are just as crazy. Honestly, one of my favorites. And the shoot we did for those? Wowzers. We were out in Vegas for the Magic tradeshow, found a perfect model and came out with a great product. I did this shoot with my homie Nick Annacone, when he got like an hour of sleep and I had like a 342 degree fever ha ha. We made it work though and I think it came out pretty amazing.
You really have something against mesh don't you?
I don't mess with that trash! Na, just playin. Of course not! I like mesh on certain areas of certain silhouettes. But as you've seen from most of my products, I use very high quality materials. It's extremely hard for me to choose mesh over a real plush pig skin. How can you say no to that?
Never say no to the pig. What's next?
Come on man, you know I can't give up that information! But trust me when I say that I have special things coming. There are a lot of things being done, and a lot in the works. Keep a lookout!
As first seen in Issue 22 of Sneaker Freaker.