NEW YORK, United States — “I would challenge anyone to give me another company that does what we do,” said streetwear wunderkind Ronnie Fieg, founder of the apparel and footwear retailer turned multi-dimensional lifestyle brand Kith, the day before the label's return to New York Fashion Week. Since opening the doors of its first location in New York in 2011, Kith has amassed a loyal community of fans eager for its non-stop drip feed of curated capsule collections. “We just want to do something that people will remember, because Kith is built off experience,” added Fieg.
These days, that experience includes fashion week runway shows. On Thursday night in front of an audience composed of friends, family and a crop of industry insiders arranged on stadium-style seating, Fieg presented over 100 looks — the full range of product Kith will sell between now and the end of the year. The show's theme: Kith Sport. Streetwear meets athleisure. Logos abounded on the front of puffer jackets and the waist bands of sports bras, across men's and women's product, that latter of which has been a recent focus for Kith. There was even an asymmetrical dress style that could play as eveningwear.
Overall, the presentation featured no less than twelve apparel collaborations (including Off-White, Champion and Iceberg) and nine footwear collaborations (including Nike, Timberland and Asics) across four sections: New York City street fashion; soccer, focused on a capsule with Adidas; ski, focused on a capsule with Moncler; and basketball, featuring two surprise guests: basketball legends past and present Scottie Pippen and Lebron James, who each appeared in their own Kith x Nike shoes during short interludes that attracted cheers from the audience. Fieg described working with the two players as bucket list experiences. “This is one of the biggest moments of my life,” he said.
Even though Kith Sport was much longer than the typical fashion week presentation, Fieg said he took a more concise approach this year. The musical interludes of the past were replaced with short videos, including a commercial starring Pippen and the trailer for a documentary on James. But Fieg’s priority was, like any other designer at fashion week, storytelling through his product. With no wholesale partners, his target audience is the consumer watching online as well as the tastemakers in the audience, including Virgil Abloh and Tommy Hilfiger.
It all begs the question: why show at fashion week at all? “I wanted to really show the world that we are more than just a footwear retailer,” said Fieg. “All of these things that we put together, it sounds scattered, but it’s really not. We are continuously evolving and becoming something that doesn’t exist.”
Thursday’s show didn’t quite reflect the excitement of that statement, but not because Kith isn’t nailing a compelling retail model. On a recent summer night over a holiday weekend, when New York City was otherwise dead, Kith's Noho store still attracted a crowded scene of people. Perhaps the fashion show model is too limiting for Kith, even though Fieg was able to conjure up the best basketball player in the world.
“Moments like these don’t exist, that is why I create them, that’s really the concept,” said Fieg. “The moment is tied into product but is so much more. That’s the vision, it all stems from passion and from what’s missing.”
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