NEW YORK — Kenneth Cole New York’s catchy new spring campaign slogan — “The future is about to be redressed” — could just as well refer to the company itself.
A year after hiring Jill Granoff as chief executive officer of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc., Cole is ready to make his next big move in the ongoing strategy to position the $492 million firm for growth. Today, the company will name Ingo Wilts as creative director, a newly created role, effective Aug. 1. Wilts joins from Hugo Boss, where he designed women’s and men’s wear and accessories as senior vice president and creative director of Boss Black, Boss Selection and Boss Green. He will report to Cole.
Cole, who founded the footwear and apparel company in 1982, will continue to serve as chairman and chief creative officer, and is expected to become even more of a brand ambassador, setting the overall tone for the brand.
Wilts will be in charge of design and visual merchandising of all product classifications at Kenneth Cole New York and Kenneth Cole Reaction. His hire will allow Cole to focus on the bigger picture and devote more time to social initiatives such as the nonprofit Awearness Fund, which he created in 2007 to raise awareness of social issues such as AIDS and homelessness. Cole, well-known for his humanitarian efforts, is also chairman of amfAR, and a founding board member of HELP USA, among other initiatives.
Since joining the company last year from Liz Claiborne Inc., where she was executive vice president of direct brands, Granoff has worked closely with Cole to develop a strategic platform, and the appointment of a creative director is just one of several initiatives to prepare for a future expected to look significantly different once the recession ends.
“The industry is changing in some very profound ways,” Cole said. “I don’t think the customer is going to go back to shopping the way [he or she] has shopped before, so you have to be very clear. You will get a chance to tell your story and you have to tell it in a very concise and compelling way, and I think that there is an opportunity to evolve the business model today.
“We are very focused on executing better, testing better and reacting more efficiently,” he added. “It requires a quick point of view. It requires certain levels of distribution that you’re in, and a comprehensive sourcing structure.”
Since its founding, Kenneth Cole has grown into a diversified business, with labels such as Kenneth Cole New York, Reaction and Unlisted, across various price points and product categories in apparel, footwear, fragrance and accessories.
Under Granoff, the company reorganized its management teams. Key hires over the past 12 months included president of wholesale Chris Nakatani; senior vice president of human resources Danesha Dixon Smith; senior vice president and chief marketing officer Kristen Dykstra, and now Wilts.
Wilts joined Boss as a designer of men’s sportswear in 1997, but left in 1999 to design men’s sportswear at Joop in Hamburg. He returned to Boss in September 2000and rose to one of the top jobs in the Metzingen, Germany-based firm. That experience, Cole said, made him the perfect candidate for the position. The search for a creative director was conducted by Karen Harvey Associates.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion