Ronnie Fieg's name has been ringing out in sneaker culture for years, and thanks to his KITH brand that's not going to stop anytime soon. Today at 11 a.m. EST, Ronnie is set to drop one of his most hyped shoes yet, so we decided to hook you guys up with a little campout reading material while you wait in line or count down the minutes from the comfort of your own home. We had Ronnie's right-hand man, Nick Annacone, break down the complete process of the ASICS Gel Lyte III "Flamingo" collab. Go in.
What is your title?
I'm the Head of Operations at KITH.
When and how did the process start for the "Flamingo"?
The Flamingo was actually a really nice surprise for me. I started with Ron before the shop was open, left KITH briefly and returned again about six months ago. So when I first started with Ron as an intern, we had this closet that held all the samples. I distinctly remember him asking me to grab a sample he was working on at the time and I mentioned to him how much I liked what are now considered "Flamingos." Once I got comfortable in the office, I reminded him every time we opened the closet that the "Flamingo" was the best sample we had. Long story short, I was happy to hear on my return that Ron decided to produce them.
Truth is, the process used to have a lot more steps involved. It's pretty evident that Ron can design a shoe and he's done so many at this point that I think he can envision exactly what his CAD is going to look like when it's produced, in addition to details that he might need to change. I don't play much of a role in the design process other than minor changes and giving a nod of a aprroval when it's something i am into it.
What goes into creating the colors and materials of the shoe?
The colors and materials are solely Ron. It's a very different process with sneakers and boots. On the sneaker side it's usually Ron seeing something and being like "Yo, those colors are so dope on ______, I want that." He grabs the Pantone book, imagines how the suede or nubuck will soak up that color and decides on colorblocking. He just gets it. Once Ron gets an idea, he has to finish it and make it perfect. His enthusiasm and persistence is something I really admire.
And take us through the process of samples.
Whenever he makes the CAD we usually get a sample a few weeks later in a couple different variations, each with some minor changes that he requested. When Ron likes something it's usually the "Wowwwwwwwww," as soon as the package is opened [laughs]. He will show whoever happens to be in the office and then tells us what he thinks need to be changed. A few rounds of sampling follow with alterations until we get it perfect. Getting samples is something that doesn't get old though, it's always fun for us all to see a pair for the first time.
When is the release date established?
Release date always varies. Really depends what kind of orders we have on the books and how many drops we have coming up. Sometimes Ron will make a few gems and we just put it on layaway until the time is right. It's continually getting harder because we have so much great stuff, but we have to be selective in what actually drops.
When does he actually get the final product before its release?
This varies as well. We've gotten shoes months early and days before. Really depends.
Ron doesn't sleep so I'll wake up at 8 a.m. like a normal human being and see a teaser he dropped.
Working and waiting on other people can be tough. Does anything go wrong on Ronnie's collabs?
Production can get pushed back, especially on clothing. The footwear we have a really good grasp on and know what can go wrong, and can plan accordingly. The worst is when you confirm a sample and get production and some shade is a bit off or they forget a lace, etc. You have to remember that the factory isn't as concerned with all the intricate details as we are, so everything has to be precise when we give them direction.
What goes into the first shots and press release? It is always so cool Ronnie usually gives the first shots unexpectedly.
Any lucky surprises during the whole experience?
Usually we have everything set up, but there is always something. For example with ECP in Miami, we had the two store fronts with the collections separated, so I figured floor mats with the corresponding colors would be cool to have. Ron liked them so much and we got such a good response online when he posted the photo of it that we ordered some for customers. We got them just in time and sold a bunch, which is really dope.
How do you guys keep leaks from happening, especially if Ronnie wears them in the streets prior to the release?
We know nobody in the crew will leak anything, so for us it's nothing. Our crew right now is amazing and everyone is super-down and trustworthy. All the crew will rock some stuff early and there are always a few mediocre quality shots out prior of Ron or us on the move with them on. People also are generally pretty cool and will ask if they can take pictures, which we have to decline, respectfully of course.
After the first press release goes out, what it's like to get that first initial wave of hype and annoying questions?