Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. will focus on preparing for its silver anniversary during the next six months.
Kenneth Cole New York will not return to the runway in September, as previously announced. The show — always the first of New York Fashion Week — will be delayed until February as a kickoff to the company's 25th year.
"We are saving our return to the runway for next February to make it part of the anniversary and use the runway as a vehicle to show we are moving in a new direction," said Kyle Andrew, senior vice president of marketing and advertising. "Next year will be a big year for the brand."
The first Kenneth Cole New York women's sportswear line will be launched this fall, after Kenneth Cole reclaimed the women's license from PDI. It will still be offered exclusively at Kenneth Cole New York stores, as the company repositions the brand, moving it from a better-priced to more of a bridge or contemporary level. Women's Reaction sportswear will continue to be sold in stores' better departments.
On the men's side, the firm is bringing its men's Kenneth Cole New York sportswear in-house from PDI, and for spring is relaunching the brand. The line will replace Kenneth Cole Reaction men's sportswear and again will be the most widely distributed part of the business, Andrew said.
The company is also diverging from its plan for brand presidents — or "keepers of the brand," as Cole dubbed them — which was put in place last year with the appointments of Doug Jabukowski for Kenneth Cole Reaction and Joshua Schulman for Kenneth Cole New York. Cole said he created the brand president positions to ensure consistency and quality over every category of the brand, both licensed and in-house.
Schulman's departure in April to take the top spot at Jimmy Choo caused a change in strategy. In May, the company appointed Marty Nealon, a consultant for the firm, as the divisional president of its full-price retail stores and e-commerce businesses — tasks Schulman had added this year. The company has no immediate plans to find another Kenneth Cole group president because others have assumed those duties, Andrew said.
On the marketing front, Kenneth Cole is running with the silver anniversary theme in 2008. Holiday will feature a big silver collection — in accessories as well as apparel — and campaign. "If I have it my way, we will spend a lot on marketing to tell people to take a fresh look," Andrew said.