The designer talks colette, friends, family and the future of KITH
The designer talks colette, friends, family and the future of KITH
Text: Jillian Selzer
New York-based footwear designer and KITH founder Ronnie Fieg is adding yet another renowned brand to his already extensive list of high-profile collaborators. KITH and Parisian brand colette are joining forces to release a new lifestyle collection on June 13, debuting an entire range of lifestyle products in collaboration with other names like Puma and Beats by Dre. Just in time for his birthday and the collection's footwear launch on June 15, Fieg will join friends and family, the colette team and fans in Paris for "KITH x Colette week," a celebration of the line Fieg teased on Twitter. The celebrations will include private dinners, an outing open to the public for the designer's birthday, and a special in-store performance by Shake 070. VMAN caught up with Fieg to get all the details about the collaboration, the design process, and how Fieg handles business.
You and colette have worked together before. How did this upcoming collaboration come about?
Ronnie Fieg I remember back a little over a year and two months ago I saw Sarah [Andelman, founder and creative director of colette] in Paris and we've been friendly for a long time and I told her about what I'm gonna do...the five-year anniversary for KITH being this year and that we wanted to work on monumental projects for the brand and she was excited for it and we talked about what it could be. It started off with the Puma collaboration and that's how it kicked off, and then it basically evolved into what you see today.
What was the thought process behind the kind of products you wanted to include [in the collaboration]?
RF It started with the Pumas. We received a sample, and the thought process was, "what are people going to wear with these two shoes?" We started working on this awhile back, so we took our time and really thought about it. We started working on that jacket, the outerwear piece, and after that we started having conversation with Beats by Dre and then it snowballed into the full collection...including all categories of street fashion.
Was street fashion the inspiration behind the designs or was there another overarching concept?
RF The way we design at KITH is always, "what's missing in my closet right now?" Personally, that's where it always starts for men. All the pieces that you see, accessories and apparel, it's the evolution of pieces that are already in the KITH collection. The Williams hoody became a classic for us, that's a staple [in our collection]. Then underwear, which we produce, and Stance socks which we've been working with for a long time. The box logo tee, the undershirts and the dad hats—those are pieces we made before. The Madison jacket got a nice upgrade in fabric and construction and our Williams hood got an update in terms of branding. We've never done a pullover hoodie with our logo on it, so this is a first from our original classic branding that's on our tee. Everything is double branded with the colette logo. We used her color palette, that great colette blue that's amazing, and combining colette blue with white and grey is I think just perfect for the summer time. It's a New York spin on her great branding of color and logo.
By incorporating colette pieces into your collection, what does this mean for the KITH brand moving forward?
RF It's a big one for us. You'll see some big moments for the brand for the rest of the year, but this is definitely a highlight for us. It's something I'm extremely proud of. What it means for the brand is showing presence in Europe. We already have a following there, and I knew when I had my pop-up open in 2013 in Paris and we learned a lot form that. I didn't expect to have that following out there, I was surprised. It's definitely grown since then. We're seeing it on our e-commerce; a lot of customers are on our site buying products to ship..to mainly Europe. It's huge for a moment in Paris and it's huge for a moment in the States because many people know about colette, but have never been there. [They] aren't able to buy some of those collaborative pieces that she's worked on, so offering that collection in New York as well will be big for the city.
How does that international accessibility play into how you design products and/or come up with these collaborations?
RF Every year if you look back at our short five-year history you'll see the different pop-ups that we've had in different cities, whether domestically or internationally, going to Brazil for the World Cup or going to Japan or Paris for Fashion Week or Miami and L.A., I use these ideas that I have to bring people together, my friends, my family and the consumers, to really just have a good time in a good city together in a place where we can celebrate. That is always the inspiration behind wanting to do anything outside of the city. With Sarah being such an inspiration to me since I first stepped foot into colette in 2010, I think that working with her because we both have a passion for retail, working on a project like this is super important to me because it's a milestone for us having been around for five years. Working with colette...it's a huge progression [for us]. I feel like the product is finally at a level where can do that. How I design for these type of things is mostly designed in what we do, and what we do has such an international appeal that we can adapt in our wheelhouse. We have a bunch of different styles. I'm not one-dimensional with the brand. I like to have a full spectrum of what we do as a full lifestyle brand, so we can adapt to any atmosphere and have the product through the KITH lens for the specific region.
You've mentioned many times that KITH came from the fact that you consider your friends your family. How do you personally develop that relationship with other brands and carry that over to collaborations you do?
RF That's a great question. What happens is that I end up developing personal relationships with people for the brands that I respect or have already worked with and really it's an organic evolution of our friendship or my love for the product, for what they create. I think that creatives and business owners in this market really speak the same language because we have the same passion about bringing products to the world. That's how it plays out. Usually when I collaborate with a brand, it's never a one-off. If you look at all the collaborations I've worked on, it's never a one and done situation, it's always "the evolution of..." trying to make our relationship better, trying to see what it is we can do to change the game. It's always difficult to continuously be disruptive, but that's something that we all have in common.
Any final words on your collection?
The most important thing for us, for something like this and with this magnitude of the best-of-the-best in terms of collaborators, I'm doing this so we can have fun. That's the most important element of this project. If you look at the pieces, nothing is intimidating. It's all very easy to wear and it's a fun project that we're excited to be a part of.