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.