Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times.

The Long Journey to Creative Prominence for Ronnie Fieg’s Kith

New York native Ronnie Fieg went from stock boy to brand mogul by mastering the limited-edition sneaker drop and selling highly sought after garments at Kith. 

In the last few years, Kith has been involved in every corner of the streetwear industry, with its influence seemingly growing by the day. Many notable figures have been endorsing the store-turned-brand such as Emily Oberg, LeBron James, Ghostface and Raekwon. Even without these iconic pop culture figures, however, brands such as Timberland, Asics, Nike and New Balance have all seen something in Ronnie Fieg’s vision from the start as well, giving him the creative freedom in many of these high-profile collaborations. Being prevalent in the community is one thing, but Kith seems to finally be obtaining the notoriety it’s always deserved.

Ronnie Fieg
Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times.

Growing up in Queens, Ronnie Fieg has had a passion for the culture from a young age. Through an emerging interest of new age classics, he focused on the bigger picture rather than subscribe to the norms of his own suburb. In his early teens, Fieg seized his first opportunity, convincing his uncle for a chance to work at his well-known shoe store David Z. As the first few months passed, he slowly began to grasp the inner working of the business side of sneakers and fashion, regularly keeping up with the biggest clients that frequented, such as Diddy, Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G. Success was imminent through his strong work ethic, and unique take on emerging trends.

After establishing himself as David Z’s head buyer, Fieg began to reel in a plethora of athletic footwear brands. One of those brands, Asics, gave him his first shot at a collaboration, offering Fieg the opportunity to archive any of their old silhouettes.. While many would see this as an underwhelming opportunity due to Asics lack of “hype,” Fieg would not let this be anything but a success.Ronnie Fieg

His “252 Pack” would come about in 2007, containing three pairs of GEL-Lyte IIIs. The loud colors were a bold decision, and with pressure from his uncle would amount to a huge risk as 756 pairs were sent to the store. At first, sales were a complete flop, sending Fieg into somewhat of a panic, until an article was published in the Wall Street Journal sent hundreds to the store two days after releasing, cleaning out the store of their quantity quickly almost overnight.

From this moment on, the store and Fieg would become a strong creative tandem, with subsequent Ronnie Fieg partnering up with brands from Timberland to Adidas becoming highly coveted pieces throughout New York and beyond.

Even with the sales and following from working at David Z, Fieg has always had his eyes fixated on bigger goals. He knew that the knowledge and cultural insight would eventually be put to use elsewhere, as his desire to create overtook the typical business model ideology.  In 2011, he decided to split off to create Kith NYC, a shoe store unlike any other. With the combination of your typical sneakers and classic menswear looks, Kith managed to fill a unique void within the industry that has failed to be replicated.

Ronnie Fieg
Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times.

Suddenly, Kith has become so much more. Fieg has begun to design clothes, inspired by what his own closet lacked. Soon, Kith’s clothing items began to take on a life of their own as they consistently sold out of stock, marking another point in the store’s unparalleled evolution.

The store has since been working from a much deeper ideology. Create first, follow a vision and ignore the typical business model. Rather than looking at the competition or what others are doing and avoiding the pressures of what the future holds, Kith simply does what it does best–create. It seems to have paid off, as nowadays everyone wants a piece. From Adidas, Nike, Champion and New Balance to Coca-Cola and SpongeBob SquarePants, Kith collaborators know no bounds. Whereas Columbia, Oakley, Adidas and LeBron James are just a few partnerships we’ve already seen in 2018.

Without a doubt, the brand has completely changed. It is now at the point where creating is the number one goal, and notoriety naturally comes with it as they’ve stayed deeply in touch with the streetwear and fashion culture as a whole. Kith is its own lane and we’re more than happy to come along for the ride.

Words by Eric Cooper – Explore the latest arrivals from Kith now.