In celebration of its 85-year history, Cole Haan has tapped four of its contemporaries that epitomize the brand for its fall advertising campaign.

Called “Born in 1928,” the print and digital campaign features individual portraits of writer Maya Angelou, photographer Elliott Erwitt, astronaut Jim Lovell and model China Machado, all of whom are 85 years old, with the exception of Machado, who is 84.

This story first appeared in the August 26, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“They are all vibrant examples of how timelessness and true style are born out of confidence — and that never expires,” said Cole Haan vice president of marketing Erin Riley. “They are as relevant today as they were in the past, and they all represent various perspectives that we thought would resonate with our consumer.”

All of the “models” were given customized Cole Haan shoes for the shoot based on classic styles ranging from a tall riding boot to a wedge bootie.

“It was a bit of a hoot” for the foursome, who were styled by Tiina Laakkonen, Riley said, adding that the campaign comes at an “important time for the brand,” after it was sold by Nike Inc. to private equity firm Apax Partners earlier this year.

“There’s real clarity and real conviction for what we want the brand to stand for and what we are committed to bringing to light in all of our channels from advertising to marketing,” she said, explaining that this includes looking at the brand’s heritage to inform its future.

Shot in New York at Pier 59 on Aug. 6 by Daniel Jackson, the black-and-white photo portion of the campaign will launch on Sept. 3. Images will roll out first on and on the brand’s social media networks, in addition to in its store windows. In mid-September, the images will appear digitally on various fashion and lifestyle publications’ Web sites. A month later, the ads are slated to appear in November issues of GQ, Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair, among others. Billboards featuring the campaign will pop up in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Toronto.

A video campaign will accompany the photo series on the brand’s Web site, and will run until November, as well. Although Riley would not reveal Cole Haan’s ad spend, she noted that it “was not humongous,” and that only 30 to 35 percent of it was devoted to digital, while the rest went to print and outdoor advertising.

“We need to look back to look forward,” Riley concluded. “At the same time, we are a very modern brand and we don’t want to be perceived as a traditional heritage brand. We’re more about attitude than an age group.”

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