Wednesday, February 21st
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"What you stand for is more important than what you stand in."
This belief is a cornerstone in the building of the Kenneth Cole Empire. Designer Kenneth Cole has always been a "make it happen" kind of guy. In 1982, faced with a desire to launch his label at Market Week at the Hilton in New York and not enough money for a showroom or a hotel room, Cole lobbied the mayor's office for a parking permit to park outside the venue. Realizing that only production crews get parking permits, Cole adapted, changed the name of the company to Kenneth Cole Productions, and sold $40,000 worth of shoes in 2 1/2 days while filming "The Birth of a Shoe Company" which used models as actresses and N.Y. policemen as doormen. This unique start exemplifies Cole's approach to business.
The empire, which now includes the lines: Kenneth Cole New York, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Unlisted, Tribeca, and the licensed name Bongo, owns over 90 retail and outlet stores worldwide. Kenneth Cole controls almost all of the voting rights and 45% of the company he started. Cole's designs are for everywoman and everyman with a slight edge to keep them interesting. He uses this same approach to his advertising both for his own products and for his many charitable causes. Cole was the first in the design industry to support AIDS research. He started in 1985 and was the creator in 2005 of the "We All Have AIDS" t-shirt effort which included many world famous politicians and celebrites in an attempt to destigmatize AIDS. He is also a significant supporter of the homeless, the pro-choice effort, Rock-the-Vote, mentoring programs and the survivors of catastrophes such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
Kenneth Cole believes in giving back to the world community. He very uniquely and successfully integrates his charitable causes, his design business, and his keen marketing intellect to engender great success for all. Although not cutting-edge or haute couture, there is room in everyone's wardrobe for a piece of Kenneth Cole.