The Signature ad.

Kenneth Cole Signature, aimed at men ages 35 to 45, targets more sophisticated men than its predecessor scents.

NEW YORK — Kenneth Cole is aiming to put a new flourish on his fragrance business this fall.

Kenneth Cole Signature, the designer’s latest scent, is the fifth Cole fragrance launched by Lancaster since acquiring Cole’s fragrance license in May 2003 from LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. That speed-to-market has been a deliberate decision for many reasons, including the successes the company has seen with its initial Cole launches, said Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of marketing for cosmetics and American licenses for Lancaster Group Worldwide. The brand is Lancaster’s third largest, after Davidoff and JLo.

“Black and Reaction [each of which includes a men’s and a women’s scent] are category leaders and still in the top 10,” said Walsh of the scents. Reaction’s key consumers are trendy twentysomething professionals, while Black has slightly wider age parameters. “Our plan was always to launch a fragrance brand for each pillar of Kenneth’s business, and Signature [attached to Kenneth Cole Collection] is a key piece of that plan.”

Aimed primarily at men ages 35 to 45, Signature targets a more sophisticated group of men than its predecessors, noted Walsh. Or, as Cole puts it with a roguish grin, “This is the guy I want to be when I grow up.”

During an interview with WWD in his spacious West Side offices here, Cole said he sees Signature as the “substantial, timeless element of the [scent] brand. It’s not as trendy [as some of the other fragrances]. Signature denotes the individual — one’s imprint on his environment. It’s your thumbprint, who you are, that is timeless.”

The juice, by Symrise, has top notes of fresh grapefruit, rare violet, spicy cardamom and fiery pimento berries; a heart of deep marine notes, orris root, water lily and espresso bean, and a drydown of guaiac wood, smoky amber, exotic patchouli and papyrus.

The fragrance’s heavy glass elliptical bottle was designed by Cole and Chad Levigne. It is topped with a mahogany wood cap, and the juice inside is tinted a deep amber. The outer carton is of a mahogany wood-grained cardboard that is accented with chrome printing.

The Signature line comprises eaux de toilette in two sizes, 1.7 oz. for $49 and 3.4 oz. for $62.50; a 3.4-oz. aftershave splash, $52; a 3.4-oz. aftershave balm, $49; a 6.7-oz. hair and body wash, $25, and a 2.6-oz. deodorant stick, $18.

This story first appeared in the June 10, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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In the U.S., Kenneth Cole Signature will be available in September in about 1,800 department and specialty store doors, including Cole’s own retail stores, said Carlos Timiraos, vice president of marketing for Lancaster Worldwide. Globally, the scent will be launched in spring 2006. International distribution currently includes the United Kingdom, Australia and Eastern Europe, and soon will be expanded to include Germany and Italy, said Timiraos.

In addition to national advertising, Lancaster is launching an aggressive scented campaign designed to disseminate more than 1 million samples and 35 million scented impressions in the scent’s first year. While none of the executives would discuss sales or advertising spending, industry sources estimated that Signature would do upward of $25 million at retail in the U.S. in its first year on counter, and that about $15 million would be spent on advertising and promotion.

Print advertising, designed in-house by Kenneth Cole Productions and photographed by Michael Jansen, will begin running in September magazines, including Esquire, GQ, Men’s Vogue and Best Life. The visual is of a thirtysomething male model in a Manhattan town house, with the tag line “It’s Your Scents of Distinction.” Both single pages and spreads will be produced.

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