Kenneth Cole recently spent a few hours in Chicago promoting his new eponymous men’s and women’s fragrances at Marshall Field’s State Street store, which netted $12,500 in sales. During that time, WWD had a few minutes to ask the designer about his take on spring fashions, the vision for his fragrance and his future plans for the business.
On spring’s new looks: There seems to be a return to femininity which is really refreshing. People are feeling good about themselves and wanting to express that.
On the political nature of his advertising: It’s not just what you look like on the outside but who you are on the inside. I try to keep it [fashion] and what I do in perspective.
On how he got his start selling shoes: I wanted to park a truck in between the fancy showrooms but the only way you could park a truck on Sixth Avenue was if you’re a utility or production company making a movie. I changed the company’s name to Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. and got a permit to make “The Birth of a Shoe Company.” Sometimes there was film in the camera; sometimes there wasn’t. I sold 40,000 pairs of shoes in two days. That was in 1982.
On his goal for his new men’s and women’s fragrances: I wanted it to be light, comfortable and refreshing, and not too overpowering.
So what’s next? We’re introducing a children’s line under the Reaction label and we’re looking into international opportunities. We’re opening some stores in London and looking to see where the product makes sense.