The collaboration king of this generation, Ronnie Fieg, celebrates 10 years of collaborations with Asics, with a 4 pair sneaker drop that will take him to a stunning 50 designs. You can say he almost single headedly brought Asics silhouettes into the modern day sneakerhead rotation, with his use of block colours and a variety of materials to add his twist on classics bases. A leader in the global sneaker community, Fieg has also expanded his empire to further then sneakers, and his brand, “Kith”, is now one of the most sought after premium streetwear labels. We take a look at the factors that make Fieg…Fieg, in anticipation of what is being called “Legend Day”.
Where do we start
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Fieg started working with a family member at the tender age of 13 at the well-known NYC footwear retailer, “David Z”. Starting off as a stock boy, the sneaker environment was a ground for his passion and knowledge about trainers to develop, as regular contact with sneakerheads gave him an understanding of what consumers wanted. Over a 10 year period, he ventured up the company ladder to eventually reach head buyer and manager of David Z’s collabs in 2007.
Fieg found his feet in this role, as the first collaboration, with Japanese brand Asics, ended up, “somehow”, landing his sneakers a place on the cover of “The Wall Street Journal”. Selling out in 24 hours, the 3 drop collaboration named Gel Lyte III x Ronnie Fieg “252 pack” (Due to the 252 pairs released), started an relationship between Fieg and Asics, that we now know blossomed into an integral part of the sneaker community.
However, Fieg’s passion didn’t reside with adding his twist on recognised silhouettes but with sneakers….and boots that he admired, that struggled to claim the attention they deserved. Including brands like Sebago and Red Wing, he states “a good product is a good product” and the development of his own brand, Kith, looks set to follow this belief.
After 3 years and numerous notable collaborations later, it was time to expand. In 2010, he parted ways David Z and invested into his own brand, to bring two Brooklyn and Manhattan based stores to life. The stores would go by the name “Kith”.Taken from the Scottish phrase “Kith and Kin”, means friends and family, which Feig has always highly valued, labelling his friends as chosen family. Closely linked to the brand slogan, “Just Us”, Fieg’s creates an organic appeal to his brand in comparison to other premium streetwear brands. While Off-white, Bape etc, have made the most of the recent Hypebeast culture, featuring in majority of high-end retailers, Kith in comparison, does not sell through wholesale. Kith products, not exclusively, but are commonly sold through the store and web-store following Fiegs ethos that “you can be successful with less money”.
Initially stocking, Addias, Nike, Puma, Clarks, Red Wing and Timberland, nothing brought more people to the doors then a Fiegs very own drops. With kids camping outside to be in a chance of copping the latest design, stock would be devoured instantly, earning Kith a stagnant place in NY sneaker scene. The natural progression?… apparel, and what sparked this realisation is another example of Fiegs integrated business mind-set to expand.
After altering some pants he bought, regular questions were asked about them rather than his patented footwear. Seeing this as an opportunity, in 2012 Feig went into manufacturing small amounts that featured his adjustments, which proved very popular. Selling out in days, his small quantity releases of under 100 were becoming a popular choice on the shop floor. Exploiting this, a product manager and designer were hired for a full Kith range. Good move once again as Kith earlier this year was featured in 2016 New York fashion week. The debut “fashioned experience” named “Kithland” highlights Fiegs canniness for quality, timely business moves and connections.
Seems like the term collaboration is the link between Fieg and success. From working with various sneaker brands to innovative architectures, choosing the right designs and people seems a simple tasks. His Kith range doesn’t disappoint with collaboration made of childhood dreams. Kith x Rugrats, Power Rangers and the ever so fun, Captain Crunch designs have proven hits in all age ranges. Furthermore, ranges with other streetwear brands such as Bape, offer a wider appeal. While a debut collab for premium luxury retailer, Bergdorf Goodman, shows Kith’s versatility and ambition to not remain stationary.
If you’re like me, you probably still have Captain Crunch cereal on your thoughts, which Fieg seems to also have a thing for with the launch of “Kith Treats”. A partnership with a childhood friend’s cupcake company, led to the crea
tion of New York’s first cereal bar. The novelty gets better when you are handed cereal in shoebox like bowls, named after a who’s who of Fieg’s inner circle.
To complement the products, the surroundings upon entry transport you into the Kith world, offering eye-catching designs that do not distract from the key items. Looking up, a barrage of plaster Jordans form a cloud over customers, offering great photo opportunities to the social media exploiters. Behind the design of his stores, Snarkiture, an architecture firm who work closely with Fieg to bring a similar experience to other stores and pop-ups.
Back to Sneakers
…and back to the best of Fieg. Although sneaker collaborations with Puma, Adidas and Nike (to name a few) are extremely notable, nothing compares to the legacy with Asics. In celebration of his 50th collaborative sneaker, I have constructed a personal top 5 of his previous releases. Like a pair? Well then I have included the average resale price (Via Campless) alongside each sneaker (apologise for the Dollar pricing). Be prepared as they do not come cheap!
- Asics Gel-Lyte III “Leather Backs”
Released with the grand opening of the second Kith store, the predominately dark “leather Backs” features electric blue streaks that provide an unavoidable attraction. Mixed with the varied use of contrasting materials throughout the design and your onto a Fieg classic. Not a bad way to announce your 2nd store.
Released: 18/11/11 Retail: $130 Avg. Resale: $1,196
- Asics Gel-Lyte III “Salmon Toe”
The release that accompanied the opening of the first Kith store and since has become one of his most sought after pairs. The genius colour-blocked toe box soon became a trademark for Fieg, appearing in a variety of colours in future designs. The interesting colour palette, oozes style and claims my top Asics x Fieg collaboration spot.
Released: 30/09/11 Retail: $130 Avg. Resale: $1,500
- Asics Gel Lyte III “Flamingo”
Although not the biggest fan of the use of mesh across the toe box, the fusion of colours really appeal. Predominately made of a browny…grey palette, the complementary hues of pinks and blues create an interesting coat on an iconic silhouette.
Released: 02/08/13 Retail: $150 Avg. Resale: $717
- Asics Gel-Lyte V “Volcano”
Volcano = Red…simple. Great use of materials, fused with shades of red creates a great look to an un-favoured Gel Lyte V silhouette.
Released: 25/10/13 Retail: $160 Avg. Resale: $583
- Asics Gel-Lyte III “Homage”
Or “What The Fieg”, which I think we all prefer. Combining a mix of previous designs and cramming them into one sneaker is now becoming common practice in the sneaker industry. To close out the Gel-Lyte 25th anniversary, Fieg did just this, fusing some of his best designs into this non-identical pair. The quality is of the highest and although I buy to wear, this would be one reserved for my display shelf and occasional brought out to shoot for home decor and Insta.
Released: 23/10/15 Retail: $325 Avg. Resale: $1,117