I met Ronnie Fieg one time, to some this may be not be special, I mean a lot of people might not even care, he’s just some guy who owns a sneaker store, but to me it was a pretty big deal. I’ve had a love affair with sneakers my whole life, styles have changed but they’re always there, and in 2012 I fell in love with trainers, no I won’t call them runners, my mom calls them runners, I collect trainers. This can all be drawn back to 2 things, @bloodrunsblack5‘s Instagram showcasing the colours and quality of his collection and my discovery of Ronnie Fieg.
The day I saw his ‘Selvaged’ Asics GLIII was the day my collection of Jordan’s and swooshes began thinning, replaced by NB’s and tiger stripes. He is the reason I’ve been on a Puma wave as of late, the alterations he’s made to existing models are unique to his name and his brand and they’re stunning.
I got my tickets to the February 14th ‘Hangin Pictures On My Wall‘ event held at Open immediately after Brag Squad Jonathan notified me about it, shortly after my trip to Toronto was confirmed, being from Calgary chances to see Mr. Fieg are slim, the opposite coast of a different country is not an ideal scenario to run into the man grabbing a coffee on Bleecker St. (I don’t know if there is a coffee shop on Bleecker I’m just sayin’).
Sunday morning was freezing, but what seemed like the coldest day of the year made for the perfect contrast to what might be the most exciting sneaker moment of the year. The MTL team dropped me off at a neighbouring Starbucks to link with ‘the most elusive man on the 6ixside’ Jonathan, I had tried and failed numerous times to connect with him on a previous Toronto trip, but seeing him seated in the back corner phone charging in a outlet let me know today would be a success. I wanted to get there early, I consider sneakers art so having the chance to see one of my favourite artists speak and the chance of photographing him, to make art of my own, I needed the best seats in the house.
We walked in around 11am about 2 hours before Ronnie was set to speak, call it hypebeast/nerdy/fanboy whatever you want, but the biggest weekend in Canadian sneaker history had been flawless up to this point and I needed that victory.
The Open space was decked head to toe in ’90’s hip hop nostalgia, with old The Source magazines displayed, an area set up as a bedroom with hiphop posters plastered floor to ceiling looking like a replica of my basement room in my moms house during my grade school years, that’s when I noticed the set of photos lining the west wall. The photos were prints of 80’s-90’s rap stars dated with the photographers name in the corner, as a self taught amateur photographer I felt a sense of “what if” while I admired the photographers work, I had captured a portrait of Fabolous the day before and what if I could get a portrait of the self made sneaker god today? That would be the final check mark on my list of a perfect sneaker weekend, then Jonathan stepped beside me and asked “yo is that Ronnie?”
There he was, dressed in a fur collared parka with a KITH x Yankees cap peeking out from his hood, the mastermind behind some of the most legendary trainers to grace cement; Salmon Soles, Eclipse, Volcanos, Super Greens, and Salmon Toes, to name a few, he is the reason your soles have colourblocked toes, the man behind KITH, a NYC sneaker shop turned world renowned brand, the man who made every sneaker enthusiasts dream a reality, and he was 7 ft away from me.
This was my chance, the space was mine, apart from a few organizers and my partner in crime there was no one else to get in the way of my opportune portrait.
I took a couple swift steps and stuck out my hand “Ronnie it’s really good to meet you sir, can I get a portrait ?” I asked as he shook my hand, after a quick glance at my CNS 998’s I was wearing he gave a smirk reminiscent of the iOS emoji and agreed, he moved to the side in front of a sneaker & hat display and began to remove his coat.I was looking at my camera getting my settings correct while firing a couple test shots and looked up only to see he had switched his attention to some event organizers who spotted his arrival, “what do I do now?” I didn’t want to bother the man or intrude on an actual business discussion, but personally I don’t like having my photo taken without my knowledge, so I was stuck camera in hand wondering if I should wait or not … “Nah he knows I’m shooting” I said to myself, “I can’t mess this up” and with the thoughts of TMZ racing through my head I gave my shutter a squeeze, and then another, and then I stopped…
I got it, a perfect shot, his home town hat was showing as he was checking his phone, it was candid, Ronnie being Ronnie, better than any posed fake smile portrait could be, perfectly centred under the Open sign.
I transferred the photo to my phone without any hesitation, I wanted to get it on the ‘gram before anyone else, RF was in the back now and outside of the staff it might be possible no one even knew he had arrived, after a quick crop I put the shot in black and white and uploaded it to my gallery, perfect.
Jonathan and myself found our seats dead centre in the third row, just behind the future Mrs. Fieg.
The occasion started with something I truly enjoyed, the interviewer began by saying “I’m joined by Ronnie F-ee-g” to which Ronnie corrected instantly “it’s Fieg, F-eye-g” something I’ve had to do to numerous people myself. Mr. Fieg spoke about his life and the grind, from stocking the shelves at his uncles David Z shop where it all began, bussing a hour each way to work for a hour or 2, rising through the ranks to a predominant position to risk it all and leave and start his own brand. He teased a future collab with the events other guest Bryan Espiritu founder of Toronto’s Legends League streetwear brand. He spoke how he never had time for friends, family, and women (until he met his fiancé) because he had to work, that now takes his Kithset crew on trips around the world, but while they consider it a vacation he is at work, everything he has, came from hard work, he laid to rest the rumours of rich parents and maintained that hard work will make your dreams come true, this is coming from a guy who as a kid dreamed about owning a cereal bar and now collaborates with Nike on limited edition cereal boxes with Kobe Bryant themed cereal served at his cereal bar, so when he spoke I listened.
Midway through the session I noticed an Instagram comment “Mr. Fieg himself just posted your pic on Twitter bro. Congrats!”, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself, a man who I highly respect that turned his dreams into goals and accomplished them just made the final goal on my All Star Weekend list a reality.
Thanks Ronnie, it was a pleasure to meet you.
Thank you to my fiancé for convincing me to spend the money to make the trip even though we are saving for our wedding, you da best.