Did Kenneth Cole Launch His Company By Inventing a Fake Film Company for New York’s Fashion Week?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to fashion and whether they are true or false.

FASHION URBAN LEGEND: Kenneth Cole came up with a rather…enterprising way of getting his product to the masses at Market Week when he began his company.

Kenneth Cole was not yet 30 years old when he formed his company in 1982. Cole had spent a long time (and basically all of his money) in Europe designing and producing shoes and now he had a ton of shoes, a company name, Kenneth Cole Incorporated, and that’s about it.

He had no money for a storefront and no real in road at getting his new shoe company out to the people.

However, upon returning to New York in 1982, he knew that he was going to try to make his splash at Market Week. He just wasn’t sure how. Read on to see the outrageous idea he came up with!

Through a friend, Cole acquired a large trailer truck. So his plan was to basically park his truck two blocks from the Hilton Hotel (in front of a fancy shoe store) and sell his shoes during Market Week out of the truck.

The problem is that you’re not allowed to just park trailers next to the Hilton Hotel during Market Week.

Exceptions, though, were made to utility companies (obviously, as they’d have to park there to do utility work) and production companies (for those filming the event).

Well, that was just the in Cole was looking for, and very quickly, Kenneth Cole Incorporated became Kenneth Cole Productions. Cole applied and received a permit for a feature-length film titled, outrageously enough, “The Birth of a Shoe Company”.

Thus, the trailer was decked out with “Kenneth Cole Productions” painted on the side of the trailer along with a velvet rope only allowing a certain amount of people into the trailer at a time, with models/actresses, cameras and a director.

In two and a half days (while filming the whole thing, naturally), Cole sold 40,000 shoes and his company was born.

Nowadays, Kenneth Cole Productions (the name stuck) is major fashion house in the United States.

It’s always fun to see interesting ideas pay off in such a manner.

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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