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Kenneth Cole Reaction


Twenty years ago, Kenneth Cole wanted to open a shoe company with limited money. From experience he knew one had to get in quickly because so often new companies run out of cash flow before they get the chance to conduct business. He also knew it was easier to get credit from factories in Europe who needed the business than from American banks that didn't. So he lined up the factories, went to Europe, designed a collection of shoes, and returned to the states to sell them. At the time, a shoe company had two options. You could get a room at the Hilton and become 1 of about 1100 shoe companies selling their goods. This didn't provide the identity or image he felt necessary for a new company, and it cost a lot more money than he had to spend. The other way was to do what the big companies do and get a fancy showroom in Midtown Manhattan not far from the Hilton. More identity, much more money too. He had an idea. He called a friend in the trucking business and asked to borrow one of his trucks to park in Midtown Manhattan. He said sure, but good luck getting permission. He went to the Mayor's office, Koch at the time, and asked how one gets permission to park a 40 foot trailer truck in Midtown Manhattan. He said one doesn't. The only people the city gives parking permits to are production companies shooting full length motion pictures and utility companies like Con Ed or AT&T. So that day Kenneth Cole went to the stationery store and changed his company letterhead from Kenneth Cole, Inc. to Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. and the next day he applied for a permit to shoot a full length film entitled "The Birth of a Shoe Company." With Kenneth Cole Productions painted on the side of the truck, they parked at 1370 6th Avenue, across from the New York Hilton, the day of shoe show. He opened for business with a fully furnished 40 ft trailer, a director (Sometimes there was film in the camera, sometimes there wasn't), models as actresses, and two of New York's finest, compliments of Mayor Koch, as the doormen. They sold 40 thousand pairs of shoes in two and a half days (the entire available production) and they were off and running. To this day the company is still named Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. and serves as a reminder to the importance of resourcefulness and innovative problem solving.

Shoebuy Insider on Kenneth Cole Reaction Shoes

The Kenneth Cole brand is the result of street smarts and suave business practices. Faced with the challenge of launching a brand at a highly competitive fashion expo, Kenneth Cole chose to park a movie trailer truck in Midtown Manhattan outside the show rather than rent a booth indoors. The stunt saved money and garnered industry attention; Cole sold every pair of shoes that he brought to the show.

It should be no surprise that this style of unconventional savvy finds its way into KC's product lines, especially Kenneth Cole Reaction. Intended for the fashion focused who refuse to submit to Madison Avenue prices, Kenneth Cole Reaction's products maintain the class of the city's elite without demanding their checkbook. It's hard not to look smart strolling into a meeting in oxfords and a messenger bag, or pulling out a leather wallet to pick up the lunch tab.

But Kenneth Cole Reaction isn't just for the classy commuter. This line also has extensive offerings for those with a smaller fashion footprint. KC's children's line is the talk of the tykes, offering flats and Mary Janes for girls and loafers and casual sneakers for boys. Whether your presentations are book reports or quarterly earnings reports, the Kenneth Cole reaction line keeps sharp looks sensibly priced.