"The Creators" - Ronnie Fieg, Chapter II: "Taking Risks: Kith"
When you begin to succeed, you have two roads: continue to act as everyone expects or try to do something more, taking risks. Being conservative is the easiest way, changing to reach higher goals is for few who dare.
After the success of his first collaborations, Ronnie Fieg didn’t want to settle there. His capacity to envision something more meant he understood how to anticipate demand: what we recognize as a visionary talent. “I think the hardest part of the job for me and still the hardest thing that I do is just like build things I think the consumer is gonna want six months after you start working on them as either from the buying side or from the production side. When we go and create apparel you have to understand what it’s like to be a risk taker but to be experienced enough to understand the cycles and know what’s been gone long enough where people will want it. When I was working on the shoes that I was bringing back out of the archive, I was like ‘I’m offering you something that wasn’t offered in the market beforehand’ and then I put my spin on it based on materials and colorways of what I would want for myself.” During his “Blueprint” interview, Fieg admitted that people had a love/hate relationship with what he was doing in the beginning working on collaborative projects. They were the outcome of his own taste, but everything was always under the name “David Z”.
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In 2007, the year of the “252 pack”, he released a small t-shirt and jacket line. Its name was Kith. The will to become independent was increasing. In the meantime he contributed to some other gems, which would ultimately become true grails for all Asics collectors. In June 2008 another forgotten pair was brought back: the Asics GT Quick. In a black, pink and blue iteration, this model was presented during another Complex event along with a surprise release: the Gel-Lyte III “Flip OG”, with blue and orange accents on a white upper. And later, in that same year, the infamous “Vader” Gel-Lyte III, with a “Star Wars” inspired patent black colorway. The Trilogy Project was maybe the most interesting of this last period working for David Z. He decided to involve his favorite blogs in three pairs that would become milestones in the Asics timeline: Culture Shoq, Nice Kicks and Highsnobiety. But it isn’t our aim to solely focus on the relationship between Ronnie Fieg and Asics, but more importantly how it had a key role in his consecration as a designer. Nowadays his efforts with the Japanese giant are maybe the most appreciated by real sneakerheads, but we can’t limit a figure like this one to just one brand.
In 2010 there was a turning point for Ronnie Fieg as an independent creator. In his own words, “David Z was more about business and I was more about creating.” Sam Avraham, the owner of Atrium (a clothing boutique in SoHo opening in Brooklyn too at the time) and a close family friend of Fieg’s, asked him to open a shoe section in his shop, but the deal was another one: Ronnie Fieg would open a new shop near Atrium’s two locations, with its own entrances. In an interview with GQ, Fieg tells the whole story: “By 2010 I wanted to leave to open my own shop. Sam, who is my partner, approached me to open up a footwear section at Atrium. I was going back and forth with [what] I wanted to do, either to do it on my own or to team up with Sam, or to take a job in a big brand. I had three offers, which I ended up handing off to friends. I made the right decision, because Sam today is my mentor, my partner and my best friend.” The first store was eight hundred square feet and Fieg slept there for five days, just building it. He borrowed money to open it: that amount was paid back in about four months.
It was “the most risk I’ve ever taken in my life.” It was the birth of Kith.
TO BE CONTINUED…