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Kenneth Cole Creates “Awearness Fund”

Ever a proponent of social activism, Kenneth Cole is launching the "Awearness Fund" - one of his trademark puns - to raise awareness of social issues like AIDS and homelessness.

Ever a proponent of social activism, Kenneth Cole is launching the “Awearness Fund” — one of his trademark puns — to raise awareness of social issues like AIDS and homelessness.

On Sunday, T-shirts featuring his social commentary wordplay will sell for $35 on kennethcole.com/awearness. Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. will donate $10 to the fund from each shirt.

The company established the not-for-profit Awearness Fund to consolidate the designer’s philanthropic efforts. The fund will support organizations in line with Cole’s personal convictions, like Help USA, which provides homes and jobs for the homeless, and amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, of which Cole is chairman.

The quiet launch Sunday will be followed by wider distribution in Kenneth Cole New York stores starting Aug. 1. Heightened publicity efforts will follow next year to coincide with Kenneth Cole Production’s 25th anniversary and the presidential election.

The black cotton T-shirts feature the politically hot verbal acuity that has become synonymous with Kenneth Cole. One shirt has an “Exit” sign with “strategy please” written underneath. Another features a melting globe surrounded by the words, “Is it me, or is it warm in here?” And a third simply states, “I’m With Stupid (until November ’08).”

Six T-shirts come out Sunday, when the Web site opens to voting on which should be the next six versions available for sale. The company hopes the voting feature will keep the T-shirts relevant to topical issues and stimulate public debate. The firm quipped in a statement: “Someone is always teed off about something, right?”