Once defined by its red-brick factories and warehouses, Williamsburg later became known for artist’s lofts featuring Edison bulbs and exposed brick walls. As the Brooklyn neighbourhood gentrified and brands like Apple eventually moved in, many of them embraced exposed brick as a key component of their Bedford or Whyte Avenue store designs. To this day, the material continues to serve as a key part of Williamsburg’s aesthetic identity — even in newly built properties.
For instance, 25 Kent — the area’s first major office construction project in nearly half a century, completed in 2019 and designed by HWKN and Gensler — joins together two eight-storey red brick structures. Earlier this year, streetwear boutique Kith set up shop in one of the building’s ground-floor retail spaces.
Founded by Queens footwear industry veteran Ronnie Fieg, the shoe and apparel retailer is known for its curated selection and much-hyped sneaker collaborations. While it now operates outposts everywhere from Miami to Milan, Kith opened its first location in Brooklyn back in 2011, near the then-under-construction Barclays Centre. Like many of Kith’s subsequent locations, that original store is a sleek, futuristic fusion of glossy white tile and shiny metal. But Kith’s Williamsburg follow-up — designed by Feig with Kith’s in-house team — takes a slightly different approach, paying tribute to Williamsburg’s character in a setting that puts a refined spin on raw industrial materials.
Matching the structural brickwork of 25 Kent (which also contains Kith’s corporate headquarters) and its historic red-brick neighbours, the store’s double-height space is anchored by a brick-clad rotunda featuring four arched cutouts. Two of these voids are filled in with transparent sneaker displays, while the other two serve as open doorways. All four arches feature a thick metal band that acts as a buffer between the structure’s dark brick exterior and its light wood lining.
Within the store’s inner sneaker sanctum, three stacked ring lights highlight the domed ceiling’s impressive woodwork. Or, for those more interested in admiring the latest drop of Nikes or Salomons, white oak benches — one of them bordering a matching wood column — and a couple of mirrors are ready to assist with try-ons.
Back outside the dome, several clothing racks bring another hit of white oak. These curved displays wrap around the circular edges of Kith’s sunken display floor, sectioned off from the store’s outer ramp walkway by a wall of metallic fins. Overhead, a ring of linear pendant lights extend outwards towards the shop’s glass facade, which provides natural light for a few small pockets of indoor greenery.
The rest of the store favours a minimalist combination of concrete and stainless steel. One notable exception is Kith Treats, an ice cream counter that lets customers top their soft serve with their choice of cereal. To match the extravagance of the treats on offer, this entire corner is clad in Rosa Aurora marble.
In streetwear culture, the expression “bricking a fit” is sometimes used to describe someone who has attempted but failed to execute a stylish outfit. But when the brickwork is this good, anyone would be lucky to have their fit measure up.
Inspired by the industrial spirit of its neighbourhood, Kith arranges its second Brooklyn location around a red-brick rotunda.