NEW DELHI — As the Kenneth Cole brand becomes more aggressive about global expansion, the designer himself is engaging in more local terms across the world.
In New Delhi to mark his retail collaboration with Reliance Brands and the recent opening of the seventh store for the brand in India, Cole talked about the increasingly global component of his business and the fast growing niche of Asian markets. On Thursday night, his first fashion show in India at the Lodi hotel drew the city’s elite. It had the same spirit of his show during New York Fashion Week in September, with models taking selfies and a digitally inspired background of large television screens — “although the selection of outfits is more geared for the Indian market,” he said.
“I do believe that global business is a big part of the future of our industry. There is an awareness of the global reality and that there is a demand and a market, but the product has to be respectful of individual markets and individual cultures,” he observed.
The brand is growing fast in Asia. A Kenneth Cole flagship will open in Bangkok on Wednesday in a redesigned format. “We already have a mature business in Thailand but the key is to make sure that the business continues to move forward,” he said.
Cole is entering additional markets in Asia soon, including Malaysia and Vietnam, which will have stores within the next six months. “We are also re-introducing ourselves in China shortly,” he said. “We’re changing partners and thought that we would just close it down and start from scratch.” This, too, will happen over the next six months.
India is driving perspectives at the moment.
“We’ve been doing business with India for all these years — we were sourcing from here already — now we’re a part of this fast growing, great, dynamic and sophisticated market in more ways,” Cole said, surveying the store in Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj here.
“I think the merchandising is unique in each market but the design isn’t that different except perhaps the sizes. The way you put the collection together might change a bit but the message is consistent,” he said, explaining that when a product appeared on a runway anywhere in the world it was now being watched in real time. Social media has had a particularly transformative effect in making brands more global. “This is all very new, it wasn’t here three to five years ago and that’s also what makes the world that much smaller, that much quicker, and that much more connected,” he said.
International markets still account for only 12 to 15 percent of Cole’s sales, although he said the goal is to grow that to more than 30 percent within the next few years.
In India, there are plans for accelerated retail growth. Darshan Mehta, managing director and chief operating officer of Reliance Brands, said two more stores — in Hyderabad and Pune — are expected to join the ones now in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bangalore and Chennai. “This is in addition to the department store concept, which we will also grow, as well as e-commerce that will be launched in the next three months,” he said.
Will Cole’s outspoken and occasionally political tag lines work in the Indian market? Mehta believes that most of them work in a global context and would not be adapted for the local market. Cole agreed, pointing out that the goal was to “continue to have a provocative point of view and to engage people — not just what they stand in, but what they stand for; not just what’s on their body, but for what’s on their mind.
“But at the same time, the idea is to do it appropriately with respect to different cultures and geographies. It could be interpreted for each market further down as we go on,” he said.
Cole was in India for another important reason — the launch of the amfAR India chapter. “AmfAR has a lot of history here in India so it’s great to be here personally to tell the story here. India has been stricken by and felt the impact of AIDS as much as anywhere and has dealt with it in some impressive ways,” he said. “The reason why amfAR has made such significant progress is because we have a consortium and a platform where we give the researchers significant grants but they have to share their data, which helps research speed along. It’s been great that we’ve been able to help in some way.”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews