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Sneakers September, 30 2011

A Conversation With… Ronnie Fieg About Kith NYC

Ronnie Fieg has made quite an impact in the New York City footwear scene and probably also beyond. We remember the first time he contacted us about his first collaboration. Working with David Z. in NYC, a mass shoe retailer, nobody really knew where to place him. Working hard and continuously producing strong collaborations with Asics, Converse, Merrell, Clarks, Red Wing, Ralph Lauren, Timberland and many others, his work started speaking for itself very quickly. The lines for his releases got longer and after years of hard work, the designer decided to take another route – to walk his own path. KITH NYC is his new retail concept, which will be opening its doors today in New York, at 11 am in Brooklyn, with a second location planned to Manhattan later in the season.

The Brooklyn location opens its doors today at 11 am at

Kith
233 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, Ny, 11217

We talked to Ronnie about his past and most importantly his future with Kith.

Hi Ronnie, you have come a long way these last couple of years. Why dont you give us a little recap?

It has been an interesting journey to say the least. In 2005, I worked on a Timberland collaboration for David Z and that was really all I needed to jump start my passion. Since then I’ve worked on over 100 collaborative footwear pieces. While working with great brands and talented individuals, I’ve learned a ton and managed to have fun with it all.

We still remember you shooting onto the sneaker/footwear scene a few years ago. Good taste and timing were on your side. We would say that you worked your way into this scene and simply convinced people out there with one strong release after the other. Would you agree with that?

To excel in this industry it’s vital to not only cater to the consumer but to actually be a consumer in the same genre. People say timing is everything and I agree with that statement to a certain extent but what I believe in most is producing quality goods and charging a fair price. I believe that is how I have built my following up until now, not over pricing because of how limited the product is or how much attention the collaboration is getting. Giving the people more than what they are paying for, that’s always been my motto. As far as having one strong release after another, that’s really the hardest part of my work. I am constantly trying to get better with each project and it becomes a battle trying to outdo myself every time but what’s life without challenges?

A new chapter in your professional life is about to start – KITH. First, what does KITH mean/stand for?

Kith is the friends portion of “Kith and Kin” which a phrase that stands for friends and family. It also means, to make known or become known in archaic scottish.

If we understand right, you will be opening two stores simultaneously? Where will they be located and why two right from the start?

Well, that is not entirely true. Yes, I am opening two shops but they will not open simultaneously. One shop will open in Brooklyn this Friday, September 30th at 11am Est and the other will be located in downtown Manhattan. When I do things I do them to the best of my ability and I’ve been blessed to be in this position where I can open 2 stores in the same season. I don’t pass on opportunities, I try to make the best of them.

With the new KITH concept, you have the ‘JUST US’ slogan. What’s the story behind that?

The “Just Us” slogan ties in with the entire concept behind Kith. I would like the customer base we build as a brand to feel like they are part of the process from the very beginning. I dropped Kin from the brand title because my friends are my family so the Kith portion was enough. Every collaborative project I put out through Kith will be limited so “Just Us” is the feeling you should have when wearing or collecting the product.

What can we expect from the stores in terms of brand assortment/product? What sets KITH apart from everything else that NYC has to offer at the moment?

The idea behind the shops is to create a comfortable retail environment that you don’t find elsewhere. KITH is a men’s only shop that will cater to several styles but retain it’s own unique identity as well. In the last 16 years of working in the footwear industry I have yet to see a shop concentrate on both athletic footwear and brown shoes/boots and do it right. I have seen shops succeed in either one category or the other but I want to offer the best of both worlds as well as an apparel line that will surprise people.

Brand assortment will consist of the best pieces from your favorite brands as well as 30 to 40% of the product being collaborative projects.

Whats coming next for Ronnie Fieg and KITH? Already have further plans?

Building the brand with my team. I’m looking forward to building an apparel line more than anything. People might think I only have an eye for footwear because that was my only focus until now. The apparel projects will be just as significant to the brand as footwear. Other Future plans? Yeah. Lets just say I have a few but if I tell you I’d have to kill you.

Thanks Ronnie and good luck with your new venture!

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