Mis­sion

Footwear, phi­lan­thropy, so­cial me­dia, and fash­ion are just a few of KENNETH COLE’s play­things. Even at 60, the de­signer is in no mood to quit the field. Pho­to­graph by ANAND GO­GOI

Harper's Bazaar (India) - - BAZAAR STYLE -

Kenneth Cole jumps deftly across the rails of a bal­cony, reach­ing, via steplad­der, the roof of the porch of The Lodhi New Delhi, where mod­els are ready in his Spring 2014 looks. The de­signer, who cel­e­brated his 60th birth­day this March, looks rugged and sprightly in a jacket and dark trousers. But see­ing the girls, he nods him­self a no, and bounds back, only to emerge mo­ments later in white jeans and zip­pered bomber. “Much bet­ter,” he says, look­ing even younger. This sums up the Amer­i­can de­signer’s collection. It makes you want to dress younger, sportier; that’s the mood it ex­udes.

But it’s not re­stricted to his clothes. Sport­ing is a term that you’d eas­ily use for Cole him­self. It was in New York in 1982 that he found him­self un­able to af­ford a room at the New York Hil­ton dur­ing Mar­ket Week, an an­nual sell­ing event for fash­ion brands, to show­case his shoes. He got a trailer for the job, but couldn’t get a per­mit to use it for show­cas­ing and sell­ing. He then changed the name of his com­pany from Kenneth Cole Inc. to Kenneth Cole Pro­duc­tions, ap­ply­ing for a per­mit to make a fea­ture film. This he did, film­ing The Birth of a Shoe Com­pany, and sell­ing over 40,000 pairs of shoes in less than three days.

With such a leg­endary start, Cole es­tab­lished him­self as a pre­mium Amer­i­can brand of footwear, and to­day treats New York as his per­sonal well­spring of ideas and in­flu­ences. With these he mixes his mas­ter­ful sportif touches, like sneaker-es­que shoes, zip­pers, and slick, new-age fabrics. This is the ba­sis of the Kenneth Cole Collection, his high-end line, which he launched in 2012 to rave re­views. Since then, each suc­ces­sive collection has had a dis­tinctly ac­tive feel.

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