April 7, 2010
Kenneth Cole, a world-famous fashion industry leader and social activist whose causes include community service and helping the homeless, spoke at SMU on Tuesday as part of the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series.
Cole took questions from the audience at the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum, as well as giving an evening lecture.
Cole has used his stature as a fashion industry leader to make an impact on social issues. He was drawn into the fashion industry through working in his father's shoe manufacturing company and helping them launch the world-renowned Candies shoe brand in the early seventies. He founded his own company, Kenneth Cole Productions, with the debut of a women's footwear collection in 1982.
Today, Kenneth Cole Productions is one of the nation's most successful and respected fashion houses, designing and marketing a full range of products through more than 5,000 distribution points globally. Cole has used his company to promote social consciousness through unconventional advertising that touches on issues from gun control and cloning to abortion and AIDS. His personal philosophy is expressed in the book he co-authored in 2003, Footnotes: What You Stand For Is More Important Than What You Stand In.
In 2008 the company launched AWEARNESS — KENNETH COLE, a not-for-profit entity that encourages community service. Cole is chair of The Foundation for AIDS Research and a founding board member of HELP USA, an organization that helps the homeless become self-reliant. He also is a board member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and The Sundance Institute.
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