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2012 March 28

Kenneth Cole on Turning 30 and Staying Optimistic

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Kenneth Cole Kenneth Cole
Billy Farrell Agency
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(NEW YORK) Kenneth Cole is back in action! The designer unveiled his higher-end foray into better, pricier, tech-ier style with Kenneth Cole Collection last night. The result? A slick lineup of accessories (pony hair booties in noir and cranberry: want!), leather everywhere—even in multilayered peplum form—sharp toppers, and some seriously great takes on navy. The setting? Way-west Chelsea’s Cedar Lake, amid the larger-than-life model vid projections (with cool audio hoods suspended from the ceiling) that flanked the threads in the flesh. The Daily nabbed the designer to reflect on his nearly three decades in the industry, plus this latest chapter at chez Cole…

Your brand turns 30 next year—what were you like at that age?
I was very ambitious, somewhat naïve, and enthusiastic. Essentially, I believed we could be whoever we wanted to be. It’s a little bit harder today, and there are more obstacles, but I still try to believe that today. 

What would be the greatest gift for your brand’s big 3-0?
If the brand can find its way within the complicated world it lives in, that would be the greatest gift.

Any surprises in the collection?
There are less surprises than there are challenges. We closed down our Kenneth Cole shoe business a few years ago, and we’re reintroducing it now. We’re trying to recreate and revert back to what we once were as a brand, with a more entrepreneurial approach. There’s the Kenneth you know; how do I introduce the Kenneth I want to be? That’s the question.

Who is that aspirational Kenneth?
He’s more adventurous, expressive, and luxurious.

What’s the oldest pair of shoes in your closet? Are they your own brand?
They are. And if they weren’t, I’d probably lie and say they were! They’re comfortable, casual shoes, let’s just say that.

On a more philanthropic note, how is your work with amFAR different than your fashion biz?

That’s a totally different side of me; it’s an ability to participate in a social initiative that’s bigger than me or what I do with my brand. The ability to have a role in what amfAR is and the path it takes is amazing. 

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