Voice for Equality: Kenneth Cole
October 22, 2010
Kenneth Cole is an American clothing designer. Born in Brooklyn, New York, his father, Charlie Cole, owned the El Greco shoe manufacturing company. Before learning the family business and starting his own company in 1982, Cole studied law at Emory University.
Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. is a mid-grade American fashion house founded in 1982 by Kenneth Cole. Wanting to preview his line of shoes at Market Week at the New York Hilton, but unable to afford the purchase of a hotel room or showroom to display his items, Kenneth Cole inquired about parking a trailer two blocks from the Hilton Hotel. When discovering that permits for trailers were only granted to utility and production companies, innovative Cole changed the name of his company from Kenneth Cole Incorporated to Kenneth Cole Productions, and applied for a permit to film the full-length film, "The Birth of a Shoe Company". In two and a half days, Kenneth Cole Productions sold forty thousand pairs of shoes, while chronicling the beginning of the company on film.
In 1994, Kenneth Cole went public, and has been included on Forbes annual list of 200 Best Small Companies approximately four times. Currently, Kenneth Cole designs men's and women's footwear, men's and women's clothing, and also accessories under the Kenneth Cole Reaction Line. Overall, Kenneth Cole Productions sells clothing and accessories under the following lines: Kenneth Cole New York, Kenneth Cole Reaction, and Unlisted. The company now operates over 90 retail and outlet stores worldwide, and sells in catalogs and websites. Kenneth Cole controls almost all of the voting rights and 45% of the company. Learn more here.
In the fall of 2010, Mr. Cole participated in the HRC's New Yorkers for Marriage Equality project by appearing in a video in support of the freedom to marry. The effort was aimed at influencing the public to vote for members of the NY state Legislature who would approve marriage equality. The video appears in a section of the organization’s web site. See video below: