On a night that was meant to honor Ronnie Fieg, Fieg honored his late friend.
You could see the raw emotion on Ronnie Fieg’s face as he walked the red carpet Tuesday evening at Casa Cipriani in Lower Manhattan.
The Kith founder, CEO, and creative director was about to receive the Footwear News Achievement Awards’ Person of the Year honor, but what was supposed to be one of the highlights of his career felt, admittedly, bittersweet. Fieg and the entire fashion world was still mourning the loss of Louis Vuitton men’s creative director and Off-White founder and creative director Virgil Abloh, who tragically passed away from cancer Sunday at the age of 41.
.@RonnieFieg discusses the special bond he shared with the late Virgil Abloh — and recalls a specific text conversation they had several years ago.— Boardroom (@boardroom) December 6, 2021
“We pushed each other to be better… we were both so interested in pushing the envelope.” pic.twitter.com/Ag3JgMZ0wz
“I’ve never worn these shoes because I felt like this was my biggest and most important prized possession,” Fieg said. “But this has been a very rough couple of days. I feel like we lost our one-and-only true superhero.”
Fieg says he and Abloh had a great relationship over the last 10 years, and the pair always pushed each other to be better. Fieg recalls a favorite memory with Virgil from several years ago, when he was flying to Tokyo and Abloh was on a flight to Europe. They both had WiFi as they were ready to take off and were texting with each other for a couple of hours as both their flights were delayed.
“I went through that text thread the other night, and it’s just an incredible thread about what both of us were doing at the time,” Fieg said. “He was sending me PDFs of what certain shop ideas he had, what certain things were going to look like. And that’s when I told him about Kith Treats and what I was gonna do about cereal ice cream bars.”
That idea he was texting Abloh about on the plane is now a fully formed global franchise, with retail locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Miami, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Paris, London, and Tokyo.
“I was so excited, that as soon as he got back and I got back, we met at my office and it was supposed to be a one-hour meeting that turned into a seven-hour meeting,” Fieg said. “And he had a beautiful mind. Just a beautiful mind.”
With Abloh, Fieg said that there was never an idea that was too big or too ambitious. They were both so interested in pushing the envelope and doing things differently that they greatly respected each other in that way, working on a couple of projects together after that.
“I believe that Virgil is the true Person of the Year every year, at least since I’ve met him,” Fieg said. “So I want to make sure that we remember him today. It’s bittersweet tonight, but his memory is going to live on forever and we gotta celebrate his life. And I think he’s going to continue to inspire myself and the youth for years to come.”