Kenneth Cole, who has a long history of supporting social causes with a wink and a nod, ruffled more than a few feathers on Twitter Thursday when he referenced the deadly protests in Cairo to tout his spring line. The founder, chairman and chief creative officer of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. tweeted Thursday morning: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at -KC.”

After an online backlash, the designer reversed course in a statement. “I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt,” he said. “I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”

This story first appeared in the February 4, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.