Ronnie Fieg is a kid in his own candy store. It's two days before KITH PARK, the third edition of his annual fashion show that shows off all of the brands offerings for the following year. He's poring through racks of clothes, excitedly pointing out the details, fabrications, and new iterations of the logo-laden sportswear and footwear that have made him and his label one of New York City's most talked-about brands.
This season is his most ambitious one yet, as last night's fashion show revealed three collaborations, one with American prep master Tommy Hilfiger, another with vintage reinterpreter Greg Lauren, and an unprecedented team-up with Italian fashion house Versace. Well, perhaps collaborations is the wrong term.
“I hate the word ‘collabs,’” says Fieg matter-of-factly. He prefers the word “partnerships” to describe his co-branded endeavors, of which there are many. While Hilfiger, Lauren, and Versace have their own dedicated sections of the fashion show, the first will show off KITH's mainline offerings, with a few select partnerships sprinkled in the looks, which were styled by Eugene Tong.
KITH's partnerships include capsule collections with Mastermind Japan (a crystal-studded KITH logo rugby), Levi's, and a New Balance capsule with United Arrows and Japanese label nonnative. It consists of several colorways of the New Balance 997S sneaker along with color-coordinated track suits. Accessories include modular chest rigs with fourdii and several backpacks and pouches done with Eastpak. There's also a continuation of KITH's partnership with outerwear company Columbia, and the debut of KITH's in-house expedition parkas, dubbed the “825” and “930” after the opening dates of KITH's SoHo and Brooklyn shops.
The universe Fieg has created is inhabited by a wide circle of high-profile associates he keeps close to the vest. It echoes Vin Diesel's sentiment throughout The Fast and the Furious franchise: He don't got friends; he got family. Considering KITH's namesake is derived from the adage “kith and kin,” the approach speaks to Fieg's desire to create his own unique lane in the industry.
Designer Tommy Hilfiger has been a longtime friend, and even made suits for Fieg's groomsmen during his wedding. Greg Lauren, whom Fieg described as his favorite designer, has his collection stocked at Fieg's store. As for the Versace collaboration, that came through Salehe Bembury, Versace's head of sneaker design.
The show itself took the idea of a theme park ride quite literally. Guests were ushered into a small set of risers at the Duggal Greenhouse, revealing an autumnal set that soon became a wintry wonderland thanks to falling snow. This was where Fieg showed off KITH's core offerings, before the whirr of motors revealed the audience was sitting on a movable riser.
The environments of the show included a detailed library to showcase the Tommy Hilfiger collection, and a stage with three settings that spoke to the inspiration behind Greg Lauren's collaborative effort. That included a rugby team, a sports car, a cozy fireplace, and Lauren's trademark patchwork tent. It loosely told a story of college students going to war and returning home.
The last environment looked like something out of American Horror Story, revealing the Versace Medusa head with the KITH logo across its eyes. Behind an iron gate models stood with their heads covered in hooded cloaks, before slowly taking them off to reveal the looks—the first of which was modeled by Bella Hadid.
KITH's interpretation of Versace's codes include several sneakers, like a high-top winterized take on Salehe Bembury's “Chain Reaction” shoe designed with 2 Chainz, and a hiking-inspired boot-turned-sneaker inspired by an archival boot by Gianni Versace. Bembury credits the latter silhouette to KITH's Thomas Cykana, who works with Ronnie Fieg on the label's special projects. It comes in a mid-top version that hews closely to the original, and a low-top reinterpretation that speaks to today's chunky sneaker climate.
The end result was a wild ride not just through Fieg's mind, but the deliberate and painstaking work ethic that has gotten him to where he is. Back in the showroom, he made sure to pay attention to every stitch in the clothes down to the way the looks were styled—even picking up stray bits of string that had found their way onto a hoodie or rugby shirt. It's the kind of meticulous mindset one might imagine Willy Wonka might have before inviting you on a tour of his chocolate factory, and wowing you every step of the way.
Now check out John Elliott's Los Angeles-inspired Spring/Summer 2019 collection.