In Defense Of Ronnie Fieg

Ronnie Fieg doesn't need anyone to rush to his defense. The sneaker designer and Kith owner has enough clout to get hundreds of thousands of people to flood his website for an anticipated release. But amidst the racks that roll in with every pair of Asics he sells come the polarizing opinions on his reputation, personal history and practices.

Opinions on Ronnie range between idol worship to outright rage-fueled hate. From his start at sneaker spot David Z, whose eponymous founder is Ronnie's uncle, to rampant gossip that he was born into wealth, to the ultra-hyped, hyper-limited collaborations that sell out within minutes, Ronnie's been damn near the center of the sneaker universe for a minute now. But contrary to many opinions, his work represents what's right in that world: a desire to keep love in the sneaker game and turn the culture into a community, not a competition.

After Hypebeast ran an interview between buddies Chris Stamp and Ronnie about the release of the Kith Football Equipment collection, the backlash was palpable. Commenters hurled insults and accusations about Ronnie's personality or his rich parents, nearly all of them teeming with palpable jealousy and hatred.

The "KFE" collection channels the inspiration of the World Cup with soccer-oriented garments in Brazil and USA-themed colorways and two very exclusive Asics models, a Brazil GT-II and a USA Gel Lyte III. Stamp's piece explores Ronnie's efforts to release the collection in a way other than sending a tweet, with a Kith pop-up shop in Brazil. For other brands, this could have been a much simpler operation: Take an existing shoe model, throw on some country-inspired colorways and stitch on a memorial patch to signify its "difference" from previous designs.

Ronnie could have easily done that himself. Instead, he made a concerted effort to launch the product with the care and precision found only in those passionate about what they do. It was measured and exacting. Along with the pop-up shop, Ronnie dropped the GT-IIs during the first World Cup game when Brazil beat Croatia. A few days later, when Clint Dempsey slid home the America's first goal against Ghana, he dropped the golden Gel Lyte IIIs. Both releases were extremely limited and also hit the Kith website on the scheduled June 28th release date.

Getting mad and hating on Ronnie only shows the immaturity of the crowd he appeals to, namely teenage to mid-20s male sneakerheads.

But it's never that easy, is it? Even if his designs are on point, the rollout is another story. Survey Ronnie's Twitter during the next Kith release. Those who miss out feel so personally wronged, so shafted, they can't help but lob attacks and racial slurs at him in 140 character bursts.

Every sneakerhead knows the trials of those early Saturday morning releases—the struggle to wake up early, get in front of a computer and hit refresh or wait for a Twitter link, only to have the sneakers they've waited and coveted for so long pulled out like a rug from underneath them thanks to resellers and bots. Ronnie has an ear to the streets when it comes to that sort of shit too. To prevent that (and maybe deter the influx of mentions online) the KFE release replaced the typical numbers (11, 11.5 etc) in the size selection with spelled out numerals (eleven, eleven and a half, etc.) to prevent bots from scooping a pair. Simple steps like that build a bridge toward community. And while it hasn't crossed the chasm quite yet, it is inching closer.

Yet, these efforts to go deeper and give back are precisely what the haters gloss over in favor of attacking Ronnie's upbringing or personality. The sneaker and street-leaning subset is a rabid one, quickly declaring each subsequent release "fire" or "flop." No one understands this binary knee-jerk reaction better than Ronnie, so rather than dwell on the hate, he works to make the community a more sociable subculture, despite the constant opposition.

Getting mad and hating on Ronnie only shows the immaturity of the crowd he appeals to, namely teenage to mid-20s male sneakerheads. Pointing and saying, "He was born into money. That's why he's successful and I don't like him" is the same as condemning the less fortunate for their family situation. Strangely enough, the complaints are rarely that Ronnie's shoes cost too much. Real criticism would be if Ronnie overcharged for his sneakers and they fell apart after, day, three wears. In reality, the typical Fieg x Whoever collabo clocks in at around $140 and is likely better constructed than the Jordans you're currently wearing at your computer right now. And whether you want to admit it or not, he's singlehandedly put Asics back on the casual sneakerhead's radar. Does he need to chill with the overbearing KITH branding he puts on a lot of his clothing? Sure. But if that's your gripe, you probably haven't paid attention to 90% of the new streetwear brands on the market today. You might want to pick a different battle.

Fashion is already an exclusive enough environment. We don't need more harsh criticism and unnecessary controversy. Ronnie's ability to make great products, market them well and foster a sense of community amongst an increasingly combative audience has earned him more than many others in the world of fashion. That shouldn't be hated. That should be lauded.

Lead image via Hypebeast

  • neto

    he just knows what people want.

  • Brandon Sales

    Did Ronnie pay Four Pins/Complex

    • WAVY

      Now we all know that Ronnie is basics (no typo) as fuck, but while reading this I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a douchenozzle Skylar Bergl has to be to write 1000 words uncalled-for essays defending what is basicsally (no typo) the IRL version of an Entourage character. Shout out Google Images for impeccably matching the mental picture I had of homeboy.

      • Regg1

        LOL if you look up privilege in the dictionary this picture of Skylar (LOL can your parents have given you a whiter name?) comes up.

        No wonder he thinks RF needs to be defended. This fag looks like he never had a hard day work or struggle in his life.

        • Rabbit

          LOL look at this fuckboi’s gentrifier face. This is the face of privilege that comes to the hood and raises the rent smh.

  • Truthspeak

    Ronnie got some dope shit but he’s too much with it now. 45 dollars for some wack ass graphic KITH t-shirt? Really Ronnie? Ya fucking Jew.

    • Oppiken

      Comments like this just prove the writer of this article right. Ronnie Fieg isn’t selling at Wal-Mart, shit is going to cost money. What do you want to pay, bro? $30? $20? How about he give it to you for free and have someone drop by your house to give you a handjob too?

      His stuff is hyped out of proportion but compared to other hyped up brands out there (Off-White, Been Trill, HBA, etc), he’s selling at a much more reasonable price point and putting more creative effort into his products than the designers mentioned.

      If you’re the type to be a hypebeast and buy stuff on Day 1 release and then wear for a week, then of course everything will be expensive to you. $45 for a hyped up tee that lasts me for the year (at least) seems reasonable to me. Otherwise stick to your Hanes 3-pack.

      • Brandon Sales

        lol “putting more creative effort into his products than the designers mentioned” Kith can not even touch the creativity of Off-White, Been Trill and HBA.

        • Mark Mavlo

          the creativity of Off-White??? heres a t-shirt with stripes for $300 get the fuck outta here you little turd.

        • Oppiken

          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Two things:

          1) Please don’t upvote your own comments. That’s pathetic, even for you.

          2) I don’t know if you are the real Brando Sales (btw, did you pay Four Pins for that article on you?) or if you are just trolling. Either option, you are a fucktard. I feel like giving you a proper rebuttal would just be like slam dunking on a wheelchair kid in the Special Olympics. Why don’t you just go read about Virgil’s “creativity” with $700 Pyrex flannels printed on old RL shirts instead?

          • Brandon Sales

            Quit being such a salty jealous hater and the whole story about the Pyrex flannels is a lie the big homie Virgil told me in person.

          • Oppiken

            Did big Virgil also cuddle you and make you pancakes after fucking you in the ass? Because that’s basically what he’s doing while you whip out daddy’s credit card to spend on his over-priced knock offs and uncreative pieces.

          • Brandon Sales

            You know nothing BOUT me you jelly.. All I know is that his products are lame and he has a side bitch called Mellany Sanchez

        • Sunni Leone

          Off-White and Been trill are creative? you went full retard with that one.

      • Truthspeak

        Lmaooo if you think $45 dollars for a fucking t-shirt that will look like shit after 3 washes is reasonable. Get the fuck out of here with that non-sense. All you guys defending Ronnie to the death are all the faggots waiting in line at the store 3 days before he releases shit like a bunch of tools. Get off his Jew dick and realize that you guys have been had. Like I said, some of his asics collab are dope but everything else that KITH releases (asides from old school Mercer pants) is absolutely overpriced, overhyped and horrible quality. Shit is FUCKING GARBAGE and you fuckboys are out here emptying your wallets for some wack shit. Personally, I don’t care what you idiots do with your money but don’t try to justify your bullshit by giving some lame ass excuses like “$45 dollars for a tee that will last me for a year is a good deal” Fuck outta here. But then again, do you boo-boo.

        • Oppiken

          Really, 3 washes?! No exaggeration! Should I refer you to a youtube video on how to do your fucking laundry then? Because if a tee looks like shit after three washes for you, I think you need to go invest in a new detergent or a laundry machine, not bitch about a t-shirt on the internet. Also, when you are saying shitty quality, please clarify what kind of quality you would like instead (just like my question about what kind of price you would want to pay). You want some cashmere or would you like a Rick Owenesque kind of tee?

          How am I providing an excuse, btw? If I buy a t-shirt and I wear it for the year (which also btw, I am a grown-ass man so I know how much detergent to use and whether to wash in cold/hot water so my shit doesn’t need to be thrown away after 3 washes), calculate the price-to-use ratio. $45 for a t-shirt I wear, let’s say once a week… No fuck that, let’s assume I’m a hypebeast who got a shitload of tees and rotates it once every two weeks. That means $1.73 per use of this t-shirt for a year. Motherfucker, you spend more on that for coffee.

          When I’m talking about creativity, I don’t just focus on one single t-shirt. I’m talking about the whole Ronnie Fieg KITH collection: collabs with Isaora and John Elliot & Co., the Indigo line, World cup collection, etc. TBH, I don’t own a single KITH item or any sneakers from Ronnie Fieg collabs. I live in Canada and I find paying international shipping for KITH to be a bit pricey in comparison to let’s say I go shopping at Livestock. I follow his instagram and I see some cool looking clothes and shoes, it’s that simple. I’m not defending Ronnie Fieg’s honour or anything, just refutting dumbass comments from idiots like you spewing hate (really, do you need to mention “Jew”?) and whining about prices with your self-entitled dick waving when you don’t understand manufacturing costs of producing clothing in a western country.

    • Juice

      GTFO wit the anti semite bullshit. Tired as fuck.

      • Brandon Sales

        What is a semite?

  • itgoesdown

    he’s a dick and get gets a lot of deserved flack for it. he blocked me on instagram because i asked him why kith saturates the colors so much on their sneaker shots. he then blocked me on twitter after i asked him if his policy was to block paying customers who are asking questions

  • Guest

    I fucks with this ar

  • Devon Caldwell

    To be honest, I’m not necessarily a sneakerhead. I like sneakers and I have a lot of them, but Ronnie x Asics KFE GT-II is the first collaboration I’ve ever purchased. Since seeing the first photos of that shoe, I was in love. I’m now alert to every Instagram, Twitter account and blog that I can find.

    The feeling of moving from GR’s to the first time you miss a collab is heartbreaking though. Missing the Anteater x Saucony Sea and Sands was the first time I’ve ever been disappointed about not getting a shoe (I got the GT-IIs during the surprise drop). What’s even more heartbreaking is checking the Facebook groups to see the people reselling already. Never tried it on, never cared to. All they wanted was to pay the entrance fee to a market with relatively high profit margins.

    The sneaker game has become a job for some people. That’s the problem, not Ronnie, nor any other of the collaborators. The fact that people decide to insult Ronnie is, as you said, just too telling of their understanding of life in general. The only thing Ronnie did “wrong”, if you could even call it that, is to make products that people want to buy so much that they’d paid for over retail price. What he makes is so desirable that their immediate value is much higher than the retail price. Hype is an incredible driver of demand for a product and by this point, Ronnie Fieg’s name is practically synonymous with hype. Not his fault. He put in the work to get where he is, I’m happy for him and will continue to be happy trying my luck at his online releases when I like the shoe.

    The problem is the market. People are quick to drop $250+ on a pair of shoes and the people who realize they can make $110 profit for having a good internet connection or knowing the ins and outs of a specific website or happen to live near a store that is releasing in-store are the problem. Too often do I see #ResellIsLife floating around Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. That’s the problem. Resell shouldn’t be life. The people who like the shoes should be able to get them. It sucks to feel like you’re on the outside looking in at an object you truly desired and at least 30% of the people who have them don’t want them at all. They got them just to take advantage of how much you want that object.

    There are great people around though, don’t get me wrong. I’ve found some genuinely good people in the game so far. People who won’t resell just because they could. Maybe I’m an overly-optimistic idealist, and honestly, I might just be too naive still, but I have no problem saying the resale market is the devil in the system. I’ve had a lot of people call me really nasty things because of this, because they know I’m not going to be their customer and will actively deter people from paying their price. They’re trying to manipulate market value; I’m trying to do the same. If no one is buying at $300, they need to go down eventually, so long as they want to get rid of the product. I can wait. And I think others can too.

    So there is something to be said in defense of Ronnie. He did something, he hustled his way to the top. He’s one of the most notable doing it and he seems like he doesn’t sleep with the way he cranks out Kithstrikes and other collabs. He genuinely seems to care about the people and wants the people who want the shoes most to get the shoes. I applaud him for that, considering some websites are still susceptible to bots and people backdooring the site, and some of them STILL don’t do anything about it. That’s a shame. Thanks for the late evening read here in Germany! Ronnie seems appreciative too, which is quite cool.

    • Brandon Sales

      Nazi

      • nj

        ..

    • yee

      essay man to the rescue

  • @1ma_kin9

    Why hate on someone’s success I applaud the dude for his creativity and blocking the bots so everyone has a fair chance. I mean there’s nothing to complain about he delivers every time with nothing but quality products. Keep doing what you doing Ronnie because they will only “hate” you if they can’t join you.

    • a critical customer

      the author forgot to mention that numerous orders of the kfe release have been cancelled. this is no surprise as it happens at every second special release. what’s even worse this time is that it took 10 days to receive a ridiculous excuse (a part of the shipping got lost in transit). as always, customer service hardly responds and some “valued customers” did not receive any information from kith.

      the shoes have been delivered long time ago as the shipping/customs clearance in Brazil takes ages.

      as mentioned a lot of pairs have been kithstriked.

      and then: lost in transit?? does it mean the truck from Manhattan to the logistics center in Brergen got jacked?? ridiculous!!

      may be it’s his attitude towards customers that drives so many kids mad…..

  • Swishman

    HYPEBEASTS AND INTERNET TOUGH GUYS ARE JUST MAD AT RONNIE BECAUSE HE WONT THROW THE YEEZY 2 COLORWAY ON EVERY FUCKING SHOE HE MAKES… YOU KNOW THIS TO BE FACT

  • Regg1

    This whole essay “in defense” of a grown man with a successful business because of a few internet comments is a new low for Complex. We know he’s a friend and whatever but wtf.

    I truly believe all you fashion guys are extremely sensitive pussies who behind all this hipster fashion bullshit are really the same lame kids who have been looking for acceptance your whole life. I see the cornball in all yall.

  • http://www.americainblack.com/ TKOEd

    I don’t even understand why anyone would have a beef with Ronnie. He makes clothes & collabs on shoes. The $45 tee someone is complaining about is MADE IN THE USA. Your $30 Nike tee ain’t. I love that.

    Great quality in limited supply. I rarely see any1 in Kith/Fieg stuff despite the hype & I hate dressing like most.

    What is there to complain about? You missed out on kicks? So what? You want all his stuff to be GR so you can see every 10th person rocking them? I don’t. But I’m 35 what the fuck do I know. Right?

  • http://highschool4innovatoes.tumblr.com/ Loveandalchemy

    Yes laud

  • http://highschool4innovatoes.tumblr.com/ Loveandalchemy

    Y’all trippin off of classic supply & demand. How do you think luxury brands develop? w/ sneakers he makes quality and asks for prices he thinks suitable and has chosen to do it through limited numbers to increase hype and brand loyalty and awareness.
    It’s working now, but if his numbers become too limited and the demand increases too high people will bootleg his sht and his brand will slowly collapse back to normality. See: Bape. No need to be mad at his business. Be mad at capitalism.

    • Xavier Thomas

      This is trill. The thing no one seems to realize is that brick-and mortar stores are “re-sellers”. They buy the shoes cheap, and mark them up. Why be mad at a couple people trying to make fast, easy money?

  • TheTruthAndNothingBut

    Or how about the fact that I bought a pair of size 13 Salmon Sole during the Kith online release. I waited a month for the shipment to arrive, only to call Kith’s customer service and find out that they “ran out of my size” and “forgot to tell me”. They then proceeded to keep my money and not refund me for another two weeks. Then I got a call from Fieg, telling me he was “sorry”. He found me on Twitter, DMed me, and said that I was “guaranteed” a pair of Leatherbacks. The Leatherbacks release comes and goes, and I got nothing I message Fieg….no response from Fieg or the Kith staff. I still got the DMs to prove it. Fucking awful.

    • peter

      show me i wanna get mad too

  • nothating

    I’ve seen Ronnie working on some Asics, and honestly, the guy doesn’t give a F*** about the final customer, he just throws a colorway in five minutes and it’s done: the rest is pure marketing.
    But well done Ronnie, you have understood how to sell sneakers !

  • Sunni Leone

    The giant lettering is still shit, just like it is when HBA, Pyrex, Off-White and the rest of those lame “streetwear” brands use it.

  • Sunni Leone

    How is Ronnie promoting community by making super exclusive kicks? You guys went full retard with that one.

  • BeniBlanco

    Ordered a jacket from KITH and the quality was beyond poor the colors were dull and faded. Far different than the over saturated pictures on their web page…since than i haven’t visited their web store since