This morning, New-York based fashion brand Kith announced a collaboration with automaker BMW, in a partnership that represents a first for both entities, and Robb Report has an exclusive preview.
The Kith for BMW 2020 Collection includes a 94-piece clothing line that pays tribute to one of Kith founder Ronnie Fieg’s own BMWs, and honors the marque’s design approach during the late 1980s and early ‘90s.
In turn, BMW created a one-off 2021 M4 Competition and transformed Fieg’s cherished 1989 E30 M3 coupe through a meticulous restoration. The pair of one-of-a-kind cars celebrates the largest collection Kith has presented to date, as well as BMW’s entry into contemporary fashion.
“The classic E30 generation of the BMW M3 is one of BMW’s most iconic models, and Ronnie Fieg’s personal example is a perfect canvas for his unique Kith design touches,” says Uwe Dreher, vice president of marketing for BMW of North America. “We are excited to see our two brands come together not only with this custom vehicle, but also in Kith’s BMW apparel collection, which gives fans of our brand a totally new way to express their love for BMW and Kith in their own personal style.”
In an exclusive conversation with us, Fieg shares his motivation for the project, why BMW was his muse and what constitutes lasting design.
When did your love of cars develop?
When I was around seven or eight years old. My grandfather had a white 1989 E30 M3. Back then, BMW represented ultimate luxury and the finest cars, and the M3 was just the best sports car of its time. It took years to evolve the 3 Series that came before it into a real sports car that was street-ready. I think that [BMW] was the first to really encapsulate the luxury feel in a sports car, and I fell in love with my grandfather’s coupe. That’s what really inspired me at such a young age. I had posters of the M3 on my wall. My grandfather passed when I was nine years old, but I remember him in that car. Every time I think of my grandfather, I think of that car.
What was your first BMW?
A BMW 335 coupe. I bought it around 10 years ago as it took a while to afford one. I customized it with the exact features that I wanted, and ended up with it in white to mimic my grandfather’s M3. Every time I got into that car, there was just a feeling that I had. I still get that same feeling today in my M760—that’s a crazy automobile. I’m very fortunate to be able to drive that.
Are there parallels that you find with BMW and your own company Kith?
I love consistency in a brand. The feel of a BMW on the road, it’s just unmatched—the stiffness of the steering wheel and just how precise the handling is, it’s unbelievable. A lot has changed over the last couple of decades, and I mean around us, the world, but the feel of a BMW is the same. If you blindfolded someone and put them in the passenger seat, they could tell they were in a BMW, even if it was from decades earlier, the feel is very distinct. We strive to be consistent in what we do [at Kith] in terms of the quality and designs that we offer. I feel like BMW has done the same. It’s really hard for any brand that has icons in its catalog to evolve them, and that’s been a beautiful thing to watch.
What drove the collaboration between Kith and BMW?
Greatness. Our goal with collaborations is to work with brands that are best in class for any product that we can’t create ourselves. That’s where collaborations make sense. When it came to a luxury-automobile manufacturer, it was a no-brainer that BMW best matched our brand. With the apparel, I feel like we really stepped to the plate to produce some of our more sophisticated silhouettes and fabrication using amazing fabrics.
How does BMW’s design philosophy complement your own?
I think the timelessness of it. It’s being progressive and evolving, but remaining timeless while doing so; and that’s the hardest thing to figure out. It’s being progressive enough, today, to be controversial, where people ask why you changed that, but 10 years from now they look back and love that silhouette. That’s what I look at as a designer and someone who studies brands, and understands how to build them. I always study how the greats built timeless brands that have become household names, but also keep the cachet of luxury. BMW is one of those for me.
As part of the collaboration, BMW restored your 1989 BMW E30 M3. What did that process entail?
So, BMW Classic, in Germany, is the most incredible place, and I traveled there four times in a matter of three months. They have professionals there who understand the importance of restoration and completely took the car apart to the screw. The restoration also included reproducing parts of the car—like the blue caps on the engine that are impossible to find—and adding customized badging and design elements on the steering wheel, hood, trunk and all four rims. They also customized the interior, replacing the seats, debossing the leather and creating a one-of-one plaque. Basically, it’s a 2021 ‘89 E30 M3.
What’s it now like behind the wheel of your E30 M3?
It looks and feels like a new car, and drives like a gem. It’s like the first time I hopped in my grandfather’s car, which is where the whole concept for all this came from.
How does Kith’s new capsule collection capture your experience with BMW?
When we worked on this apparel collection, we wanted it to combine the classic feel of BMW’s luxury, but also its fast and sporty nature. The idea was to create a collection that was inspired by the design aesthetic of BMW in 1989, but still be super relevant in today’s world of fashion, whether its cardigan sweaters, crew-neck knit sweaters, blazers with tech insert vests or a tracksuit made of velour with a jersey back. And then there’s BMW’s M stripes, which are so iconic and meant so much to the era as BMW became a real competitor in that [motorsport] world. The M stripes took on a whole new form of representing the best in performance for the company.
Is there a piece that defines your goal with the collection?
I would say the suede bomber—made in Italy with premium leathers—accessorized with the suede gloves. Its touch and feel make you want to see that jacket in that car.
The Kith for BMW 2020 Collection will be available from October 23 at Kith retail locations, kith.com and a pop-up shop at 25 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y., which is also where Fieg’s 1989 BMW E30 M3 will be exhibited.
Get a sneak peek at more of the clothing below: