Kenneth Cole: Kenneth Cole

Kenneth Cole is the founder of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc.
Rashida Chavis for NPR
Kenneth Cole is the founder of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc.

Rashida Chavis for NPR

Kenneth Cole launched his shoe business out of a forty-foot truck in midtown Manhattan and quickly became known as an up-and-coming designer with an eye for street fashion.

In 1986, he made a bold move by associating his nascent brand with a controversial issue at the time: the AIDS crisis, and the vital need for research.

Through the 1990s and 2000s, Kenneth grew the company into a $500M brand, leading it through downturns, department store consolidation, an IPO and a return to private ownership. Throughout, he stayed committed to AIDS research and many other social causes.