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MUSIC SNEAKERS & FASHION

Kith Keeps Golden Era Hip-Hop Alive at MSG

When the fashion force of Kith meets a franchise like the Knicks, Ronnie Fieg finds common ground through the grit of 90s New York.

Ten years ago, Ronnie Fieg opened the doors to an empire that was truly his.

After an adolescence spent stocking shelves at David Z and an early adulthood establishing himself as the go-to storyteller in lifestyle footwear, Fieg introduced the world to Kith in 2011: a boutique and brand soon to go global, but always rooted in the 90s nostalgia of New York.

Inspired by the competitive spirit of hip-hop across the five boroughs as well as the aspirational apparel imagined by Ralph Lauren, Fieg figured out a way to house his loves of fashion, music, and sports in a space that was all-encompassing, yet meticulously focused.

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Over the course of a decade, everyone from Coca Cola to Clarks and from Barbie to BMW has called on Kith. Classic cinema franchises like Star Wars have received Ronnie’s Midas touch while acclaimed sitcoms such as Curb Your Enthusiasm have entered the Kith universe.

However, when considering the territory that Day 1 Kith fans call home, one client matters more than any other.

The New York Knicks.

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For the second straight season, the historic franchise has called upon Kith to create its City Edition jerseys and launch collaborative clothing that pays homage to both the ballers and boutique.

True to Fieg’s background, the collection is headlined by footwear but inspired by more than just basketball.

The Kith x Nike Air Force 1 “Away” shows reverence to the grail status “Taiwan” Nike Air Force 1 Low from 2001, all while bearing the iconic Nike NYC logo that began popping up on city-centric t-shirts and sneakers over the course of the 1990s.

While elements of sport and sneaker culture are correctly accounted for in the Kith x Knicks capsule collection, the bass line that provides the beat is more than just the painted boundary that separates Pete Davidson from Kemba Walker in Madison Square Garden.

Rather, it’s the gritty sound of golden era New York hip-hop that informs the feeling and rollout for this roundball collection.

Calling in The Lox, Fieg focuses on Jadakiss, Sheek Louch and Styles P to present the lifestyle range of his latest love letter to New York, simply because they best embody the spirit of the city and tone of the team.

The Big 3 from Yonkers light up a dark MSG with bars that don’t come off like paid content and in gear that appeals to the players, celebs, and fans that flock to games each night.

An all-black aesthetic covers caps, jackets, pants and Air Force 1s, bearing branding of both Kith and the Knicks. Naturally, Fieg’s design language speaks to the symbiotic balance of sport, fashion, and art that inspires the pavement pounding work that built both Kith and The Lox.

“These are great people,” Ronnie Fieg said regarding The Lox on The Complex Sneakers Podcast. “And the reason we’re such great friends is because we’re cut from the same cloth. We’re from the same era and understand substance.”

Stylistically, the 2021 Kith collection for the Knicks mirrors that of 2020’s launch.

From a palette perspective, much of the Nike Sportswear apparel to include the Air Force 1s have transitioned from primarily white to black. In regard to rollout, Jada and company carry on the torch presented by The Diplomats who held it down for Fieg and MSG a year prior.

When considering Ronnie’s admiration for hip-hop hailing from his city and his upbringing, it’s no surprise that he’s picked rappers rather than hoopers to debut each Knicks launch. Just the same, it’s the integrity each design evokes that is ultimately more meaningful to him than buzzwords like collab or co-sign.

“We don’t want the name of the brand or the person we shoot to be the reason why the product sells,” Fieg explained on The Complex Sneakers Podcast.

When Fieg is home, which matters considering Kith now has locations ranging from Paris to Tokyo, he makes a point to attend as many Knicks games as he can.

This Christmas Day, the Knicks will host the Atlanta Hawks, playing in their new Nike City Edition jerseys, which were designed in collaboration with Kith. Like the lifestyle capsule, the game jerseys are based in black and dripping with 90s nostalgia.

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The side panel piping and firm font harken memories of Patrick Ewing, Latrell Sprewell, and Larry Johnson, while the same city-centric branding worn on the Air Force 1 stamps the jersey as a stark contrast from its peers and an aesthetic upgrade with plenty of cross-culture cache.

This Christmas, the Kith x Knicks capsule collection will live on court and online with items releasing at the boutique’s website as well as at select flagship stores.

The Air Force 1s will touch down first at Kith Paris on Christmas Eve, proving just how far Fieg has come.

Conversely, the same blacked-out NYC aesthetic celebrated by The Lox and engineered by Kith will outfit Knicks fans and players on Christmas Day in the Mecca, proving exactly where Fieg’s from.

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