Kenneth Cole is tackling a hurdle many a fashion brand has attempted — to fuse fashion and comfort.
This story first appeared in the August 10, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
More than 1,500 people lined up outside the firm’s Rockefeller Center store in Manhattan on Friday morning to purchase shoes from the brand’s shoe collection featuring 925 Technology cushion technology incorporating materials such as deerskin, Poron foam, cork and flaxseed.
“They are like walking on teeny little pillows,” said actress Marcia Gay Harden, who was wearing a black pump on a silver heel, one of the five signature styles in the debut collection that will be sold exclusively at Kenneth Cole stores until next year, when the company will begin wholesaling the line.
Actress Eva Amurri was there, too, checking out the wares before her upcoming move to Los Angeles.
Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer Michael Gould perused the collection alongside Kenneth Cole ceo Jill Granoff, while Cole autographed shoes and took pictures with a long line of fans.
“What you put on every morning affects the way you look, but shoes are the only thing you put on that affects the way you feel,” said Cole of the initiative, which was four years in the making. “The goal was to make a comfortable shoe and to have it not look like a comfortable shoe…something a woman can look and feel good in.”
The first five styles are known as the Silver Edition and are limited editions. Styles include a pump, a high-heeled ankle boot, a pointed flat, a sling back and a skimmer with the “KC’ filigree logo fob at front. Colors include pearlized black leather, dark teal blue, chocolate and beige. Retail prices range from $135 to $195.
Granoff said there are talks to bring the technology to the men’s arena. The company presold 2,000 pairs, which customers in the Tri-State area were able to pick up Friday. Going forward all of the brand’s shoes will feature 925 Technology.
“The thought of selling full-price shoes at this rate, in this environment, is unprecedented,” said Granoff, who added the strategy with 925 so far is to build interest and drive traffic into Kenneth Cole shops. “We are reinventing footwear for Kenneth Cole New York. These shoes were designed from the inside out. It’s a rebirth, really.”
On Thursday, the company reported a second quarter loss of $3.3 million, or 18 cents a diluted share, versus a loss of $2.1 million, or 11 cents, in the year-ago period.