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Kenneth Cole recently spent a few hours in Chicago promoting his new eponymous men’s and women’s fragrances at Marshall Field’s State Street store, which netted $12,500 in sales. During that time, WWD had a few minutes to ask the designer about his take on spring fashions, the vision for his fragrance and his future plans for the business.

This story first appeared in the October 9, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

On spring’s new looks: There seems to be a return to femininity which is really refreshing. People are feeling good about themselves and wanting to express that.

On the political nature of his advertising: It’s not just what you look like on the outside but who you are on the inside. I try to keep it [fashion] and what I do in perspective.

On how he got his start selling shoes: I wanted to park a truck in between the fancy showrooms but the only way you could park a truck on Sixth Avenue was if you’re a utility or production company making a movie. I changed the company’s name to Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. and got a permit to make “The Birth of a Shoe Company.” Sometimes there was film in the camera; sometimes there wasn’t. I sold 40,000 pairs of shoes in two days. That was in 1982.

On his goal for his new men’s and women’s fragrances: I wanted it to be light, comfortable and refreshing, and not too overpowering.

So what’s next? We’re introducing a children’s line under the Reaction label and we’re looking into international opportunities. We’re opening some stores in London and looking to see where the product makes sense.