Ronnie Fieg on Bringing the American Cereal Craze to Japan

“I think with our twist, that’ll be the difference maker in terms of what’s being offered.”

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Food & Beverage 
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After getting a glimpse of KITH Treats Tokyo via an Instagram post last week, we now take a closer look at the newest addition to Ronnie Fieg’s ever-growing empire. The first international KITH Treats location, which also happens to be the culinary offshoot’s maiden standalone outpost, is conveniently located in Shibuya’s Jinnan area. Much like the stateside KITH Treats the sweets parlor offers an original menu comprised of ice cream, cereal specials and milkshakes incorporating Japanese snack staples such as Matcha Kit-Kats, Pocky and Black Thunder. Customers hoping to get their hands on wearable KITH product won’t be disappointed either as the 129 square foot catalina-style shop also features exclusive merchandise as well.

Prior to the much-hyped opening of KITH Treats Tokyo we were able to catch up with Ronnie Fieg to learn more about the concept of the space, his favorite menu items and what he has in the works with KITH for the next year.

Why did you choose to open up a location in Tokyo, as opposed to other metropolitans in the U.S. or Europe?

There are plans for L.A., nothing solidified as of yet, but there are plans. I decided Tokyo because I think the Japanese will appreciate it more than many others. There’s a lot of attention to detail with what we do and I think that this is the perfect place to get creative with the brand. It’s basically going to be a think tank for us. We’re going to be able to experiment with some things here, and there’s also going to be a merch situation, and I think that the cereal craze in America can be adapted here pretty nicely.

The only reason I’ve been able to do what I’m doing here is because of Junya [Matano]. I call him my “Uncle Jun.” He’s been family for the brand. Even before I started KITH, me and Junya were working together. He’s my partner out here for KITH Treats and that’s the only reason I feel comfortable doing it. That’s an important part of it.

Tokyo is home to a multi-cultural range of culinary experiences. What do you hope to bring new to this landscape?

I feel like there are many different retailers and brands that do it so well here, so that bringing the food aspect is what made it interesting. I feel it’s a concept that hasn’t been explored here and I think with our twist, that’ll be the difference maker in terms of what’s being offered.

What challenges did you and your collaborator Snarkitecture face when bringing your vision to life in a compact space?

There are always challenges when you try to fit anything into a space that’s really small like that. But it forces us to get creative and be more impactful with a lot less space. That’s when you become more creative and more efficient. KITH as a brand started in a small space and was footwear-only, and we had to make do with what we had. I’m not a stranger to being in those situations. I’ve been eyeing this space since Nano Universe opened it as a bakery, and I always thought it would be perfect since it’s on the street. It’s also very conceptual in terms of size. The minute it became available and was brought to my attention, it was meant to be because I was always taking photos of it before anything was in the works.

Ronnie Fieg KITH Treats Tokyo

Any particular features of the KITH Treats that you really want to highlight?

I think that us offering merch in this way within a cereal bar concept is going to be really interesting. The combination of having different foods with the merch, and the way it’s going to tie back with all the projects that I have in mind for the future. I think that that’s going to be the surprise element for when they see a KITH Treats. What are your favourite food items on the menu? I worked on many of them with the GM of Treats, Keenan. We work on the menu and all the specials together. Obviously “The Fiegster” is on there so I’m a little biased – that’s my special. We included Green Tea Kit Kats, the Pocky and the Strawberry Pocky, so we are going to take small things from the Japanese snacks and tie them into some of the toppings and specials. We have a special using Black Thunder too which is really cool. We have ideas for what we’re going to use for Japan in the future but I can’t give them away just now. It’s going to continuously evolve.

You have been able to successfully blur the lines between footwear, apparel and food under one umbrella, while still staying true to your brand’s roots. Where do you see KITH expanding in the near future?

You’ve seen KITH get into hospitality with what we did in Aspen and The Hamptons. I also have something in the works next year that’s going to be bigger and better than that. I’m focusing most right now on the product we create, the retail environment, and the experiential component of the brand – how I want people to live through the product through its setting. I have always been interested and passionate about hospitality because I’ve been travelling a lot and staying in different hotels, so I can experience different services. I think that’s always been in my blood to do that since I was young.

What’s next for KITH in Tokyo. Will we be seeing another Japan-inspired collaboration or maybe even your first location overseas?

I don’t like to think five years out, three years out, or two years out. That’s not the way I do it. The way that it works with us it that it organically evolves when we have the chance to do it right. We don’t have anything in the works right now to open something full-on in terms of KITH. We want to really plant the seed with KITH Treats and see how Tokyo responds to what we have to offer. I do have something in the works for a project we’re potentially going to release next year here, but I don’t have much more information about that.

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Photographer
Kentaro Harumiya/Hypebeast
Image Credit
Kith Treats Tokyo

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