ronnie fieg, king of trainers
Known for his collaborations, his NYC store Kith, and for being one of the biggest sneakerheads around, designer Ronnie Fieg is going international.
Photography Celeste Leeuwenburg
Popping up in Paris for fashion week, Kith showcases a capsule collection of apparel collabs with Fieg's favourite independent designers, alongside the launch of his Disc Blaze 'Coat Of Arms' trainer for PUMA - soon to be available at Dover Street Market. We headed to the city of light and love to catch up with Ronnie Fieg and discuss the future of sneaker technology, teaming up with Puma and whether or not Kanye invented the leather jogging pant.
Why pop up in Paris?
I love the city. I started a pop-up shop concept in May in Miami and I wanted to take it internationally for the first time and felt that Paris was the centre of Europe in terms of fashion. I worked with some of my favourite independent menswear designers and it was important to give it the right setting... I figured men's fashion week in Paris would be perfect!
Makes sense! So which designers did you team up with for the apparel collection?
John Elliott, ISAORA and an accessory company called Focused Space.
How heavily involved have you been in the setting up of the store?
The shop is my design. It's a shopping experience so we're letting three people in at a time. Those three people will each have a personal shopper and they'll go through the entire store. Then there's a mini film and then you walk through a gallery of mannequins with products so it's very different to anything I've seen. The space is amazing.
Which other stores do you respect for their creativity?
I obviously really like what Dover Street does and I love Colette - it's probably my favourite store on the planet. I always take inspiration from Sarah on how she merchandises products. I have something in the works in New York that is going to bring a whole new kind of experience to Kith.
What is it about the Disc Blaze design that you love so much?
There were elements that I really loved about the original design, but I changed the upper and made some tweaks. The Blaze has been a silhouette that has been ahead of its time since the '90s. Its an aerodynamic, futuristic runner. While many brands are going more into lightweight technology, I really think the retro-tech still has a nice fit. The trinomic mid-sole is one of my favourite in any runner, I love the whole aesthetic of the shoe and in terms of the fashion-forward pieces that we did with the apparel, I think the fit for both is just perfect.
Do you see it as an upgrade of the 2012 Cove?
Even though it has the same silhouette as the 2012 Cove, it is an upgrade, yes. There are some tweaks - we added leathers and reinforced the toe. The cap on the toe of the Cove kind of folds in as you wear them, but the new design keeps its shape and is much more sturdy. I think people took time to realise that the inside formstripe on the medial side is 3M. It's black, reflective and all pieces of leather are very important. The speckled sole was the hardest thing to achieve. It's a textured reflective paint speckled in the midsole. I think it came out perfect.
Where do you see the future of sneaker design going as more technologies are developed?
We're in 2014 now and I feel like most of the sales are still in retro designs, which is crazy to me. When we were younger watching Back To The Future, we probably never thought that we'd still be wearing the same styles in 2014! I expect companies to really start implementing their research and development. I'm expecting things like climate-controlled footwear, all-terrain designs. I really think companies will start implementing these new technologies soon - not in terms of how lightweight a shoe can get, or using breathable fabrics, but actually implementing real exciting tech.
Did Kanye invent the leather jogging pant? I know Kith sells a similar design…
He said he handed it to Fendi right?! And Fendi said no! I've heard so many stories about the leather jogging pant and how it started. I came up with a jogger called the Mercer Pant… that was my own silhouette. It's tailored to fit like a sweatpant, in a dress pant material but in the aesthetic of jean. It's three pants in one. The leather Mercer Pant is really a revolution of my Mercer Pant.
Which cities to do you reckon have the strongest sneaker game?
I know London, Amsterdam and Berlin are really important cities for runners, and I'm rapidly learning that Paris is one of them too. New York is definitely up there because it's such a melting pot of everyone and everything. Then obviously LA and Miami as well.
How many pairs of sneakers do you own?
A lot. Somewhere around 3,000? The collection has been accumulating from a young age. My mom is trying to empty the garage and I wont let her.
Which are your favourite three pairs and why?
I have so many that it would be impossible to say.
What's the plan?
The major plan? The long term goal? The get old and retire on an island somewhere. In the mean time, the plan is to keep doing what I'm doing - to keep Kith in the forefront of the marketplace and to inspire the younger crowd to work hard. I think in the past two years we've caused some ruckus in New York and I plan to do that in other places. So as long as I can travel and bring my friends with me, and use these projects that are very dear to me as an excuse to bring all of my people together in another city, then it's gonna continue to happen.
Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Celeste Leeuwenburg