Kobi Halperin to Join Kenneth Cole

Ingo Wilts, who has served as senior vice president, creative director of Kenneth Cole Productions for the past three years, is leaving the firm.

NEW YORK — Kenneth Cole is making some design changes.

This story first appeared in the June 11, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Ingo Wilts, who has served as senior vice president, creative director of Kenneth Cole Productions for the past three years, is leaving the firm. His last day is today.

Kobi Halperin, former executive creative director of Elie Tahari, will join KCP on Tuesday in a consulting role as women’s sportswear creative director.

Halperin, who had significant impact on Tahari’s growth over the past decade, will collaborate with Kenneth Cole, chairman and chief creative officer of KCP.

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Cole declined to discuss Wilts’ departure since the firm is in a quiet period, but said in a statement: “We appreciate Ingo’s dedication and commitment during his tenure with the company and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Last November, it was reported that Halperin was planning to leave his post at Tahari and was seeking financing to establish his own collection. The Israeli-born designer, who joined Tahari as executive vice president of design and was elevated to executive creative director following Rory Tahari’s departure, left Tahari late last year. Halperin was with the firm for more than 10 years. He was unavailable for comment Friday.

Cole is getting more serious about building his women’s sportswear business, and Halperin is viewed as the creative executive to help him do that.

“We are excited about working with Kobi as he brings extraordinary experience as both a creative director and a leader to our organization,” said Cole.

Wilts joined KCP 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 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 2000 and rose to one of the top jobs in the Metzingen, Germany-based firm.

Wilts is said to be leaving to pursue other professional interests and was unavailable for comment.

At the time of his joining KCP, Wilts was in charge of design and visual merchandising of all product classifications at Kenneth Cole New York and Kenneth Cole Reaction. This spring, KCP launched a new women’s and men’s sportswear collection called Kenneth Cole Collection, which has higher price points, better fabrics and more advanced styling. The line represents a major effort by the company to jump-start its business, which has had some product issues, and is expected to impact everything from its retail stores to its marketing message. At the launch event in March, Wilts told WWD, “Our customer has wanted this kind of [elevated] product. Whenever we have had it, it sold very well. I’m quite convinced this product will be very successful. It’s in the DNA of Kenneth Cole.”

KCP, which will turn 30 years old this year, is in the process of going private. Last week, the board approved its offer from Kenneth Cole to acquire the firm for $15.25 a share, with an implied enterprise value of $245 million.