When news broke this week that the legendary knitwear line Coogi was returning to the menswear market by way of the Bleeker Street boutique KITH, we must admit, there were questions and mixed emotions. Would the integrity of the luxury line be upheld? Didn't Rag + Bone already resurrect Coogi during New York Fashion Week? We know Drake does, but would KITH kids even care about the mid '90s Cosby sweaters? Seeking answers, we hit up KITH's label boss Ronnie Fieg—who once admitted to splurging a bit too much on Parasuco jeans— to chat about the knit wear line's re-launch, that time he sold sneakers to the Notorious B.I.G., and the new wave of jiggy style.
Do you think that the kids who usually shop at KITH will care about Coogi? It's going to be interesting to see. I'm 32 years old. I've seen that shoppers are very responsive and respectful when it comes to iconic products from the '90s, because that's the era that built everything that's here today in terms of street fashion and streetwear. Also, Coogi was endorsed by some very important hip-hop figures and that made the brand so iconic. It just has to be handled in the correct manner. Distribution is very important, [as is] keeping it very limited. So not everybody has a Coogi sweater walking down the block. It's very limited. And with the first ones being sold, we'll see how it goes.
What message do you want to convey about bringing these luxury knits back to the market? That it's timeless, and that the style of a Coogi sweater is unlike anything you've ever seen before. We've seen Rag & Bone collaborate on a women's line, which was very unexpected, but it just shows you that there's a whole array of consumers for this style of knit work.
Has the quality of the knitwear changed? Nothing has changed, and quality has not been jeopardized. They're using the same person who designed the original Coogi sweaters and the same machinery that was used in the mid '90s. I feel like it's very special and it should be put on a pedestal, which is what we've done with them at KITH.
Did you ever see Biggie? I was lucky enough to see him when I was 13 years old, in 1995. It was right after him and Mary J dropped that single, "Real Love." I was working in the stock room of a shoe store on Broadway, running shoes up and down, and he was there, buying a pair of Timberlands and Wallabees, both in a size 13. I remember thinking that he looked like a scary dude when I was younger. He was wearing a black skully, black leather jacket—all black to the socks. Rappers were always shopping at the store. Jay would buy a fresh pair of Timbs, and Big would buy a fresh pair of Timbs and Wallabees every weekend.
What would you consider jiggy style in 2014?I haven't heard that word since the Lox song, "If You Think I'm Jiggy." Honestly, fashion has evolved since those days and become more about of self-expression. I feel like people are a little more daring now than they were back in the day. Yes, you have those groups that all dress alike, which is kind of annoying, but there's this whole other segment of the business where people are dressing the way they want. What's jiggy to me is somebody who wears what they personally love and lets their style represent themselves.