Ronnie Fieg : “The footwear industry has a cycle : boots go up, sneakers go down” | Interview

Ronnie Fieg : “The footwear industry has a cycle : boots go up, sneakers go down” | Interview

so the home-field advantage really stands for what we do in New York in the United States I use materials that American brands have used historically when producing apparel so you see like French terry mesh chambray and plaid all custom-built fabrics and we executed them in ways that you usually haven’t seen them we executed in ways that they haven’t been used up until today so when we use the mesh you saw them used over the Bleecker sweat pant and we use it as an applique and one of the baseball jerseys actually both the baseball jerseys and when you see the chambray we used it as a lining and also as an applique but when we use French terry you see it on pieces like the fishtail jacket so we used like traditional fabrics that American brands use but we you know you gave it the Keith twist so it’s on pieces and silhouettes that you don’t usually see and the fabrics that we used so that was the idea of bringing that clothing that type of apparel to Keith to this clothing line and to regions and countries in countries that up until now you haven’t really noticed or seen Keith in different stores so we wanted to bring the the American and New York City heritage with the red white and blue colorways of different pieces the way that the pieces are blocked we wanted to bring the pride of New York City and America into different countries which we haven’t been in before so that’s really like the home-field advantage is bringing USA in New York City into other cities and applying you know fabrics and materials that American brands have historically used creating goods that have USA and NYC all over the products it’s a risk going into other countries and cities you know but that’s why we we did it for our first collection because we think that there is some demand for kiff product outside of New York City and I think that people want to have a piece of what we do back home you know so like they want to somehow experience or be connected to the brand and we feel like this is the best way to do it it’s the most organic way to do it you know we want them to kind of get a piece not only of the brand but also the culture and where we come from so yes it’s a risk you know but I think so far the reactions been good I think you know I don’t really plan how I do things you know like we have ideas in the office and then we execute you know I worked on this project on the on this clothing line eight months ago and you know I didn’t think that we needed a Footwear element to it because the idea and the concept is so strong so we designed nine new silhouettes for the apparel and we concentrated on the fit and the construction the fabrics it’s all custom milled and we went through a number of different rounds before we finalized everything so you know this is a new apparel is relatively new to me and to the brand but what we’ve been able to do in the last two years has really has really been amazing so I’m concentrating on both categories just as much now yet you know I don’t I don’t I don’t look at things that way you know like you know the footwear is branded Ronnie and then the apparel is branded Keith I’m the creative director of the apparel and a half people that work that work under me designers that work under me to bring my conceptions to light to bring all of my ideas and help conceptualize with me but they help bring my ideas to life and and with the footwear no one you know no one really helps me because I know that business very well and I’ve been doing it for such a long time that I kept that branded Ronnie just because of the credibility that I think I bring to the footwear game so it’s kind of its kind of separate I I don’t like to I don’t consider myself a designer I never looked at it that way you know I just wanted to create product and that’s what I do I create and execute and I don’t worry about the labels and what people want to slap on my name you know the pressure of continuously wanting to do better than the last project it’s a it’s intense because I feel like every every project that I’ve had up up until today has been like has summarized that moment in time you know so a year ago my projects were the best they can possibly be for a year ago but like anybody else in any other business you learn as you go and as I continue to do what I do both in footwear and apparel I’m continuously learning and I think that as long as you are willing to accept the fact that you don’t know everything and that you’re willing to learn everything can continuously get better and gradually I think it’s gotten to the point where you’re seeing the progress in the work so if you go through the timeline because that’s what it is you know it’s a timeline every year if you go through the body of work I think it’s gotten better and better at least that’s my that’s my opinion you know so yeah I mean it’s it’s a it’s hard to look at at everything that I’ve done in the past and and implement things that I’ve done in the past for the future I just try to you know execute ideas as they come you know and and people have gotten a piece of my thought process throughout the time that I’ve been working on different collaborative Footwear but I think nowadays I’m working more on designing new uppers for brands you just see you see that now with the mid top Sakura Puma that’s a new design for the RF six nine eight and going forward you’re gonna see some new stuff from different brands and and things that I tried to do that’s a little different from the norm you know trying to challenge myself to get better I think the brands have gotten acquainted with my team and and myself on the way and the way on the way that I work and the way that it’s worked in the last couple years I’ve been fortunate enough to have great relationships with the brands where if I come up with a concept or an idea you know it hasn’t been very difficult to execute that brands don’t try to push anything on me to do to do something that you know I I might not want to do so like I don’t think it’s so much brands asking me to do something it’s more like us sitting together and figuring out how we could do something together it’s more of a like a team effort than just me wanting to do something or just them wanting to do something I think it’s more like a of a cohesive thing you know I meet with the brand’s quarterly you know four times a year and during those meetings we speak about different things and one of those things we usually speak about is what we’re going to work on for the future you’re gonna see a few things I mean high fashion I mean you see what I did with Buscemi that was a project that I really loved because you know we worked on designing that shoe together and that’s upstairs right now I Colette and that’s like a special thing to me I mean I’m a I’m a kid from Queens New York you know like for me I wasn’t supposed to get this far and everything you know from five years ago and on has all been a bonus for me like I’m just trying to make the most out of my opportunities and I think I think working with different brands is important but you’ll see some things for me that are different you know on now what’s very important to me is also the experience of the retail store you know because we’re in Collette right now downstairs in in like this restaurant slash cafe and what Sarah has been able to do here has been so inspiring to me you know and you know people are inspired by designers and by brands and I’m most inspired by experiences and this is an experience you know so for me what I’ve done with Keith in New York has been more than I ever thought I would do but moving forward we’re looking to like give a special experience to the consumer walks in so as invested in the experience of a retail space than I am with actual product that I work on so you know that’s that’s a big part of what I’m doing right now too luckily I’m not designing shoes for eBay I’m designing shoes for people that want to wear product good-looking product product that is special you know what happens on eBay and on Kempe lists or all that stuff I mean I love the sneaker community in the sneaker market I do I have love for those people but to me I don’t understand the mentality of wanting to buy something because they think it’s gonna sell for more I understand that when you’re buying stocks and you’re investing in a company but when you’re buying a shoe for me or buying into the moment and into the work that the person has put in and for me when I see people wearing my shoes it’s special to me because they got to experience like a product that has been conceptualized and was brought from inception to creation and you know there’s a lot of work that goes into that so I do it for the people to wear the product you know I wear the product you know all the people that work for me love the product that we work on because they see the process and the people that wear the product I think they want to be a part of that and I respect that for people that are like storing them to sell them later I don’t have a problem against it that’s cool but I can’t promise you you’re gonna make more money and I don’t I don’t I don’t know that business so well I don’t have a problem with resellers hustler is a hustler you know like I was brought up in New York so like a lot of people had to hustle to make a living and I had to hustle when I was younger to sell shoes in a store for me to make my living you know so I understand the mentality I just I don’t have that embedded in me when I when I go and try to create new products I’m not worried about what what things are gonna resell for if I have an idea that I want to keep more limited it’s not based off of what it’s gonna resell for its because I want less people to have it I want it to be more special you know and that goes parallel it goes hand in hand with resale value but it’s not the reason behind why I make something more limited or anything like that I think a lot of the Ronnie fight product that ends up on eBay is there because it’s not accessible to everybody around the world I keep it very tight as far as distribution because you know at times I’m worried about who the retailer might be that’s gonna tell my story or if they’re gonna tell the same story if they’re gonna merchandise the product the same way I want it to be merchandised those things those things are the things I’m worried about so I don’t want to over distribute to places with that won’t that won’t display my my products as I want them to be displayed so because I keep the distribution very tight they become more demanded you know and that’s why I think my shoes have ended up on eBay but again like I that’s not what I do things for you know what I mean like the eBay market the resale market it’s always gonna be what it is like it’s always gonna be there you know for any type of product for an iPhone to a comic book to you know to shoes it’s a big market that is for another day that’s a that’s a that’s a question that has a very long answer but I think that there are I think the brands are doing a good job tearing product you know and and and creating a tear where things are very limited and very special and very creative and you know those those products will always be put on a pedestal by it by by the consumer and they’re always looking consumer is always looking for something different so I think the brands have realized that you know the bigger brands Nike always does a good job and I think Adidas and Puma have really stepped it up New Balance and Asics also have their own tiers so and you’re seeing little brands you know independent brands come up also Diadora has done a very good job this past year and you know it’s it’s fun it’s fun to be in the market and see what what they what they’re doing to adapt to the marketplace and to adapt to what the consumer is looking for from those brands it’s good to see that well I think the athletic footwear industry right now has peaked I think it’s at its all-time peak actually the younger kids are involved the teens are involved even you know if my nephew is 12 years old he’s turning 13 he’s like a sneaker head you know and and then you have the teenagers or sneaker heads and then you have the guys in the 20s but then you have the guys in the 30s like myself I wear sneakers almost every day so I think it’s peaked I think it’s everybody now that’s not everybody but it’s almost everybody that uh that’s involved in that market and wants to be in that market and be in the know so where do I see it going forward it depends on how the brands react to seeing how massive it’s gotten if they try to flood it and it becomes saturated there’s a cycle and then it goes you know sneakers go down boots and shoes go up and then you know sneakers come back five years you know it’s all cycle it’s like a five to seven year cycle that’s what I’ve seen you know I’ve been in this industry for 20 years so I’ve seen the ups and downs of a athletic footwear and then shoes and boots which I call alternative Footwear I feel like my collaborations are like my little children and I love them all the same you know you don’t favor one kid over the other so although there are moments that I feel have been like very important to the brand like what we did in Brazil what we did in California in LA what we did in Japan in Tokyo you know I think Tokyo was the height of experiences that I’ve had in another city or another country it amplifies everything I do because seeing people line up for for product that I didn’t even know existed like I didn’t know I had any fans in Tokyo and then I see like five hundred people lined up outside the store I didn’t even know that five hundred people in Tokyo knew me so like or the brand so for me those are like important moments but the product itself like I love all the product that I’ve worked on some to me I wouldn’t wear anymore like my older like my first couple of projects that I worked on seemed a little bit outdated for me like I think that I’ve evolved a lot since then but they’re still very important in my in my timeline you know so the fact that you could see the growth means that it’s important you know so it’s good

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. He needs some high fashion retail items I think he could have like a kith "black label" like Ralph Lauren purple label and it would be a very nice edition

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