Ronnie Fieg Interview with The Shoe Game

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Tomorrow, September 30th, is a big day for Ronnie Fieg. For years, Ronnie has been well-known for his work at New York footwear retailer, David Z. A few months ago, Mr. Fieg announced he was opening his own shop which he named KITH. Following the KITH news, people were immediately curious as to what was instore for RF’s future as a footwear designer and soon-to-be shop owner.

Being fully aware of all the questions out there, TSG caught up with Fieg for an in-depth interview about KITH Brooklyn. We discussed everything from Salmon Toes to the meaning of KITH to crashing servers, plus much more. The grand opening is tomorrow, so read our interview below to get the full scoop on KITH.

You worked with David Z for years, so how does it feel now that you’re stepping out on your own?

RF: It feels great man. I’m really blessed to be put in this position. You know, I started out there when I was 13 in the stock room; my passion really grew from there and I knew this was what I wanted to do. I thank David for the opportunity to grow there, but at this point I feel it’s necessary to take the next step. It’s a very exciting time for me.

When did you decide that you wanted to open your own retail space?

RF: I’ve always dreamed of having my own shop. I used to sketch out how my store would look on my notebook paper back in junior high, haha. I’ve thought about opening up a shop several times, however, just in the past few years has it become a real opportunity, and I am taking full advantage.

The name of the shop is KITH. Can you explain the meaning of KITH and why you chose that name?

RF: KITH is a part of “Kith and Kin,” which means friends and family. I dropped the Kin part because truthfully my friends are a part of my family. We also came up with the motto “Just Us,” because we really want people to feel like they’re a part of something and they’re along for the ride with us. It’s a true team effort.

With so many shops out there, what is going to set KITH apart from the others?

RF:  I think the biggest mistake others make is that they identify themselves as a sneaker store, or a brown shoe store. I have a passion for footwear, period. I want to cater to the kid who wants a dope pair of sneakers, or the guy who wants to dress up and get a quality pair of brown shoes or boots as well. I think the most important thing is making sure the customer is getting more than what they pay for, I want people to walk out of KITH and feel they got their money’s worth.

People always see the final product, but they never see all the hard work that goes into projects like this. Can you tell us about some of the difficulties that you had to face while trying to bring KITH to fruition?

RF: If I started telling you about the shit we’ve had to overcome through this project, we’d be publishing this interview next July, haha. You know, it’s never easy to build anything in NYC, with all the restrictions and whatnot. But truthfully, you have to foresee all the difficulties that may arise opening up a shop, or two. Between the build out of the shops, logistics, buying product, and designing products, I really have had a lot on my plate. I am just trying to focus on having a great release this week, the website launching, and the shops up and running. There are always obstacles, but that will make the finished feel that much more rewarding.

The grand opening is Friday, September 30, 2011. What special things do you have planned for the grand opening of KITH?

RF: Well, the Salmon Toe is releasing that morning at 11 am EST, both in-store and online. That in itself is going to make this really special. I am really excited to show everyone the finished product of all the hard work at KITH Brooklyn. I also am having an Asics release/grand opening event with some of my closest friends within the industry, and the people that have played a part in where I am today. It’s going to be an amazing day.

Let’s talk about the Salmon Toe Gel Lyte III’s. We saw a sample a while back, but what made you decide to release them?

RF: The few people I showed when I first got the sample thought I was nuts for thinking of dropping them. After I released the photos, I got a petition about a week later with hundreds of names trying to convince me to put it in production. I knew at that point that I had a special shoe, but I wanted to wait until the right time to release them. The opening of KITH seemed to be the perfect time, and I am really excited about people’s reaction to the announcement.

A lot of people outside of New York want Salmon Toes, but some people still have a chip on their shoulder about the crashing of David Z’s server. Will the server be able to handle the massive traffic without crashing?

RF: Man, people still hate me for the site crashing, huh? Haha. Let me start by saying, it is very hard for any site to handle as much traffic as we got for previous releases. With that said, we have made some SERIOUS upgrades to our servers so I am anticipating no issues (No promises.) We now understand the situation a little better, so we are preparing accordingly.

What about all the people located outside of the U.S.?

RF: I am in the beginning stages of this store, so I had a very tough time preparing for this. However, there will be some pairs available and we are taking the steps to make future releases more accessible internationally. People keep killing me over international shipping, but people don’t quite understand how difficult it is when your stock is selling out in 60 seconds. Logistics people, logistics.

While we’re talking about shoes, what footwear brands can people expect to see at KITH?

RF: Man, I don’t know where to start. As far as sneakers go we have Asics, New Balance, Puma, Polo, Adidas, Swear, Converse, Supra to name a few. In the brown shoe room we have Sebago, Florsheim, Dr. Martin, Sorel, Timberland, Abington, Boot company, Quoddy, Chippewa, Red Wing, Ralph Lauren, etc etc etc. Keep in mind, these are a few, there are way too many to name, but there is some amazing stuff coming in.

Will KITH carry other products besides footwear?

RF: We will be doing collaborative apparel and accessories as well. We have some amazing clothing coming in this winter with some great companies that I’ve worked with. To name a few we have Golden Bear, Four Stroke Denim, Pendleton, Quintin, Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen, and Oetzi. I have done footwear now for a while, but this is the stuff I have worked so hard on lately. I’m very eager to show people what we are dropping next. This is the next challenge for me.

Is there any KITH footwear collaborations in the works?

RF: I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but I definitely have a lot in the works. The boots I have coming in this fall are serious. I have my capsule line with Sebago, a few shoes with Caminando, Quoddy, and of course we are dropping some Asics as well. That’s just a few though, I don’t want to give to much away.

As you know, people look up to you and pay close attention to your every move. What advice do you have for those that desire to have their own shop one day?

RF: The biggest thing people don’t realize is how much goes into all of this. Most think I just started designing shoes, but as I said before, I have worked in every aspect of retail and I eventually worked my way to where I am now. I always say you can’t get from A-Z without the alphabet; there is just so much truth in that. There is no easy way to get to where you want to be. Put in the time and the effort and you will reach your goals. Stay hungry, and persevere.

At the end of the day, people should know that KITH… will continually give you more than what you pay for, this is family, it’s “Just Us.”


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