It's a little before 7 p.m. on a Wednesday evening, and as the sun sets over Broadway and Bleecker—where sneakerhead mecca, gallery, and retail destination Kith quietly lords over Nolita's most kicks-addicted shoppers—its owner, ambassador, and creative force Ronnie Fieg is getting ready to go to Miami. And yeah, he'll get some R&R, but it's also a matter of business—while he's there, Fiegs's launching a pop-up shop from May 2-May 10 for his highly anticipated "East Coast Project," a set of product collaborations set up through Kith and other key street fashion brands like Just Don, STAMPD, Herschel Supply Co, and more.
If you can't tell, Ronnie Fieg is busier than ever these days. It's gotten to the point where he has to install an app on his phone that triggers its blinding flash every time he gets an email or a text message. At the moment, he's going back-and-forth with a company about their samples not arriving in time for the ECP project lookbook that's being shot by New York's own photography enfant terrible, 13th Witness. During our sit-down, multiple staff members will drop in to check up on Fieg, talking everything from product roll-out to what he wants to eat for dinner that night, all in rapid-fire succession, one after the other.
But that's usually a surefire indicator of some kind of genius, isn't it? When it comes to his brand and his dealings, Fieg's life equal measures the scattershot chaos it hands him and the precise methodology with which he handles it. He'll drop a preview of a product at 3 a.m. on Instagram, just because he wants to. He'll also re-shoot products multiple times to ensure they don't just pop, but detonate the streetwear heads' heads when they hit the blogs. It's this unique attention to detail, paired with guerrilla, ears-to-the-ground marketing, and the unapologetic aura of a victorious hustler that's helped Fieg build his name and the ever-expanding Kith empire. And not everybody likes it. But they're in the minority, as evidenced by the fact that Kith is about to embark on its biggest endeavor yet: a collaboration with eight brands, on eight different products, which each adopt a unique Miami/New York color scheme exclusive to the project. In this sit-down with Complex, Fieg breaks down why he chose these brands to collaborate with, how he figured out that the game is bigger than the shoes, and the way he went about winning it.