Where Sweats Are Cinched and Air Jordans Are Art


Seth Rogen replied with options: “Kithtropolis. Kithstanbul. Kitheopia. Kithneyland.”

Kithneyland is accurate. People pick out a very particular outfit with a lot of signifiers to go and stand in a line.

The space was designed by the Snarkitecture firm, and once you’re inside (I didn’t have to wait, but my editor was confronted with a wraparound), you’ll find a tube installation that’s like a Yayoi Kusama infinity room, except here the infinite is represented by white plaster casts of Air Jordan 1s. ’Gram gold. The first things that caught my eye were snugly red checkered pieces by Fear of God. A plaid robe looks ready for a family Christmas card ($1,295). There are cinched sweats to match ($995).

“Just Us” seem to really need comforting. Everything in the store is insanely soft and enticingly droopy (except on the women’s floor, where among many things is a selection of thong leotards by Alix for $195). A rack of pieces by Greg Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s nephew, are all weathered flannels ($395), destroyed hoodies ($1,066) and distressed khaki jackets sewn together into an aesthetic that’s essentially Burning Man hygge. The bleach-splattered shirts are called “Studio Shirts.” The Kith man definitely texts anyone he can: “sorry was in the studio.”

On the second floor, shoes shelved against the store’s enormous windows look like they’re floating in the cityscape. There’s also an in-store ice cream stand, Kith Treats. You’re not allowed to carry a cone near the shoes, but the menu offers various mixes of soft serve and cereal designed by the label’s most-admired figures. They’re all men. Dudes like the Viceland TV host Action Bronson, the BMX rider Nigel Sylvester, the football player Victor Cruz and the artist Daniel Arsham have all created their own combinations of Rice Krispies, mini-marshmallows and the like.

I can’t go on without saying that for the first 30 minutes I was in the store, no one spoke to me. I was even wearing Alexander Wang x Adidas cinched sweatpants. My partner and I stood holding a pair of shoes at the shoe wall while a cluster of four salesclerks stood around and, surreally, kept greeting each other. We stood for a chorus of high-fives and several rounds of secret handshakes before we gave up. I like to think they’re still standing there, a glitch in the Matrix, forever saying hi to one another.

Photo

Women’s garments and accessories.

Credit
Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times

Upstairs, in the women’s section, I initiated, asking to try on a Helmut Lang by Shayne Oliver blazer ($645) and a SJYP ($926) denim coat. The blazer was brilliant; it zipped up the back and held me like a compression sock. I was tempted to buy it, but I’ve just moved, so I’ll have to wait.

On each floor are racks with magazines and art books about male artists including Ai Weiwei, Keith Haring and Basquiat. Kith also has an art gallery, Arsham/Fieg Gallery, on the second floor, which currently showcases work by a male artist who makes sculptures out of skateboard decks. I have a proposal: a Judy Chicago-style installation in the gallery, but instead of a dinner party, make it a shoe wall. The shoes? The same women represented in the Chicago piece, each with her own collaborative sneaker. Just an idea. Call me.

As we left, a woman in a red hoodie smiled at us and said, “Hi.”

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