Some of our favorite shoes last year were made in collaboration with New York’s Ronnie Fieg, so when we had the opportunity to speak with him about his new project we jumped right on it. In his latest collaboration, Mr. Fieg worked with the legendary British shoemaker Grenson on 2 Fred boots and a Spike Duck boot.
The Fred Black features rich brogue detailing on top of a lug sole attached by Goodyear welting. Both the Fred V and Spike Duck are bathed in a deep slate blue and sit pretty atop Vibram soles. In addition to the most premium leather, all 3 boots feature smooth waxed woven laces for durable, all-weather wear. Learn more about the boots and their creator below.
1. How did the collaboration come about?
The relationship started when the Kith Manhattan shop opened. Grenson boots were selling very well and my customers appreciated the styles and leathers Grenson was offering. That’s usually how the ideas for projects resonate. There needs to be a hole in the marketplace that needs filling, I’m there to fill it.
I noticed that there weren’t any grey boots in their range and I wanted to offer their classic Spike V (V stands for Vibram) and Fred V in a special grey leather. The idea for the black Fred C (C stands for the commando sole) came from personally needing and wanting an all-black brogue boot made of rich oily leather. A premium and clean boot that can be worn with a suit but has enough character where it won’t blend in with the rest. They offered to make these boots in a sample room in their UK factory. It gave us the ability to make 12 pair runs and keep this collection extremely limited.
2. Grenson was founded over 140 years ago, how did you manage to incorporate contemporary design aesthetics into such historic and relatively conservative shoes?
I try to push the envelope with small additions that can stand out, but I always keep the brand’s DNA in mind. It’s extremely important for people to see the shoe and still know it’s a Grenson style. The addition of the red leather heel spike will let people know it’s not just a regular in-line version. The premium waxed/burnished grey leathers and black waxy/oily leathers will stand out and if you follow my work since 2006, you might notice that these boots are an RF collaboration without having to see a logo.
3. How has this collaboration differed from recent collaborations like with Asics, Dr. Martens, and New Balance?
Grenson is a gentlemen’s brand, a little different from what people are used to seeing from me. I turned 30 last year and I’m starting to dress a bit different. More weddings, more black tie events, and dressier footwear are playing a bigger part in my life. This project was different in the sense of who these boots will cater to, I know it’s not for everyone and I like that. It is a brand that is regarded as one of the best dress shoe companies in the world and I consider this an accomplishment. Getting 12 pair runs made in the UK wasn’t an issue and it was something that they offered. They know the importance of keeping something limited and special and I totally respect that.
4. When working with another brand how do you decide which materials to use?
I try to use materials that I don’t see in their range but at the same time push the envelope with the quality of leathers. It changes with every project.
5. How much of a role does the chosen material play in the final design of the shoe?
It is the most important part of any project I work on. I always try to give my customer more than what they pay for. Premium materials are key to making my projects work.
Take a detailed look at the new collaboration above and look for it at Kith NYC both in-store and online starting January 25th.