Kenneth Cole

Chariman & CEO, Kenneth Cole

A business that began 30 years ago out of the back of a 40-foot trailer, Kenneth Cole Productions has risen to the top of American fashion at lightning speed and set the standards for others to meet. With nearly 100 Kenneth Cole domestic retail stores, and 100 stores internationally, Kenneth Cole has been able to unite his fashion instincts and business acumen with his philanthropic convictions. Kenneth Cole grew up in Long Island, New York where he spent his free time as a stock boy at the local shoe store or selling peanuts at Shea Stadium and Madison Square Garden. A strong work-ethic and determination motivated Kenneth to eventually join his family’s shoe business in Brooklyn. In the early seventies they launched the world-renowned Candies shoes—a brand that became a household name during the disco era. In 1982, Kenneth left behind the world of wood-heeled stilettos and chunky platforms to start Kenneth Cole Productions. Kenneth Cole Productions is one of the most widely revered and consistently focused fashion houses with retail sales in excess of one and a half billion dollars. The Company has four lifestyle brands: Kenneth Cole New York for the sophisticated, metropolitan man and woman; Kenneth Cole Collection, an elevated line that is the ultimate expression of our unique style; Kenneth Cole Reaction geared toward a creative, more casual customer; and Unlisted for the younger and trendier teen. Currently, there are 16 licensees that cover 61 dual gender and multi-brand product categories. With 26 product categories from swimwear to kidswear to fragrance, Kenneth Cole Productions is a full lifestyle, dual gender brand. Kenneth goes far beyond lending his name to a line of clothing and accessories. He is the ultimate driving force behind all the brands and the Company’s creative director in all areas from design to marketing. Sometimes politically ironic and irreverent but always socially conscious and relevant– Kenneth Cole’s advertising has touched on everything from gun control and cloning to abortion and AIDS. He believes that, "To be aware is more important than what you wear." Many people recognize the famous, "Regardless of the right to bear arms, we in no way condone the right to bare feet" while others celebrate the timely, "Not voting is so last season." Whatever the slogan and whatever the issue, Kenneth Cole continues to abide by two mantras: "What we stand for is more important that what we stand in" and "We may not heel the world, but we hope to be an accessory."