Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1954 to Charlie Cole, who owned the El Greco shoe manufacturing company, Kenneth Cole studied law at Emory University in Atlanta before learning the family business and starting his own line in 1982. After spending all his money making shoes in Europe, Kenneth Cole returned to New York and discovered he had no place to sell them, and no money to open a store. Then inspiration struck, and with "Kenneth Cole Productions" painted on the side of a 40-foot trailer, its founder parked at 1370 6th Avenue, across from the New York Hilton, the day of a shoe show. In just two and a half days, the venture paid off and Cole sold his entire stock - 40,000 pairs of shoes. The result of that success would eventually lead him to branch out into equally lucrative launches of apparel, cologne, perfume and accessories.
Still known primarily for its shoes, the company makes men's and women's clothing, fragrances and accessories under five brands: Kenneth Cole New York, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Unlisted, Tribeca, and the licensed name Bongo. Additionally, the company also licenses its name to products including watches, luggage, and eyewear.
In August of 2003, the company launched Black - Kenneth Cole cologne, and in March of 2004 followed up with a perfume, Black For Her - Kenneth Cole. In the same year, fragrances Reaction and Reaction For Her were also introduced with great success. The Kenneth Cole Signature fragrance was introduced a year later, in 2005. And a limited edition fragrance, Reaction Thermal, was released for holiday 06. In 2007 the company released R.S.V.P. - Kenneth Cole, a sophisticated men's cologne that blends orchid, sandalwood and cedar.
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