Creative Soccer Culture

KITH's Ronnie Fieg Talks Soccer & Fashion

Ahead of the launch of his latest adidas Football collaboration, we sat down with KITH's Ronnie Fieg to get the lowdown on the journey to date and the inspiration behind the new capsule collection.

Your first move into soccer was your 2014 World Cup themed “KITH Football Equipment” (KFE) collection which included two Brazil and USA themed kits as well as two USA and Brazil Asics models. Can you talk to us about how that collection came about?

"We knew we wanted to do something impactful for the World Cup in 2014. We wanted to show up in Sao Paulo and do some exciting things, especially with the huge soccer atmosphere that city has. From there we began to work backwards to create product that was more soccer-inspired rather than performance-based. We made jerseys and footwear and also did a collaboration with Beats to tell a fully-rounded USA – Brazil story. People got really excited because it put us in the soccer realm. That was quite a small project though especially when you compare it to what we have been doing with adidas most recently."

Thinking back to that collection, how has the values and culture of soccer evolved in New York since that 2014 World Cup?

"It’s funny because I think it has evolved just as much as we have evolved since then - which is a lot. In four years we’ve seen our brand grow tremendously not only in terms of the products we offer but also the locations and designs of our stores. Soccer has really started to take off in the States and I’ve seen it not only in New York but in other places we have opened stores, like Miami and LA. You’ll see kids playing soccer in the streets and parks around New York now, which wasn’t the case three or four years ago. I feel like the internet and social media has helped with that and given visibility as to what is happening. I think with players getting more involved in social it has helped spread that message and made the game a lot more accessible."

For you personally, where does your connection to the sport come from?

"I grew up in an Israeli household as my parents are from Israel. Soccer is really the only sport that matters in the Middle-East. There are other sports that also matter but soccer is by far the biggest and the one that matters most in people's lives. When I was growing up I played a bit of soccer but it is my father's favourite sport so we would watch it all the time. It’s in the family so I became passionate about it as a kid. It’s one of those sports that transcends the world. It’s like a universal language. So you may not speak the same language with the person in front of you but if you play soccer, it’s almost like there’s an innate understanding."

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The likes of Versace, Virgil Abloh, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Burberry and Koché are all putting soccer inspired pieces on the runway - why has fashion become so obsessed with soccer in recent seasons?

"In more recent seasons soccer has become more of an international sport and also more of a cultural sport in the big cities. Places like New York, Miami and LA, people are more aware and it’s a sport that I feel deserves focus from the fashion brands because you’re not used to seeing fashion product from the soccer world. That’s why I thought the opportunity with the teams we have gave us the chance to do it right. I think it’s because it’s so internationally renowned, it deserves the attention it is getting right now."

Since you began working with the adidas Football team, what have you learnt about the soccer market that makes it unique?

"Working with adidas is always fun because they take it so seriously and they make some of the best product in the world. I’ve learned that they take the soccer business as serious if not more serious than they take everything else because the best players in the world have to compete in their product, so that level of research and development is always dedicated to making the best on field product - which is a challenge. They keep themselves challenged all the time so some of the best work we’ve seen in recent years comes from cleats. When we’re there in Germany looking at what they’ve been able to do and are currently working on, we get inspired by the technology and the work they put in. So it’s always important for us to incorporate some of those things."

How has that relationship between the two sides developed from the first season to where you find yourselves today?

"It’s a little easier to work with each other now because we know what we like. We always try to come with the best intentions for the brand first. When I think of adidas, the first thing I think of is soccer. I don’t think of a running shoe, or a basketball shoe or a lifestyle shoe, the first thing I think about is soccer. I think the mutual respect we have for each other is tremendous and just being able to respect each others greatness for what we bring to the table is a really good synergy that is rare."

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Can you give us an introduction to the story that you have lined up for season three?

"It’s actually an amazing story that makes me really happy. Happy and sad. We all know that the US didn’t qualify for the World Cup but I feel like it’s an opportunity to represent USA in a different way. The whole idea around this project was to take homage from our favourite USA moment, which was the 1994 World Cup and those games played in New York, California and Florida. I thought that was pretty amazing for this as we have teams in each of those states."

"The design of the USA team jersey then was so iconic that when I found out that the USA team didn’t qualify, I thought, 'I have three teams of my own, why don’t I represent USA through them' and still keep the spirit of the USA team alive in the States. So that’s when we got busy and started bringing together some of the best references from the USA teams and started building a collection that was split up for the three teams and their crests - the Flamingos, Cobras and Reys - but it was more so to keep the spirit alive."

Read the full interview in the SoccerBible '32/12' World Cup Special. The full KITH x adidas Soccer Chapter 3 capsule collection launches on June 29.


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