Charity and Social Causes
Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. is active in charities and often uses advertising, publicity and other corporate initiatives to support charitable causes. Cole’s advocacy for AIDS awareness and research has made the fashion house a legend in philanthropic circles. He is a longtime board member and current Chairman of the Board for The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). His involvement with amfAR began in 1985 when he organized a public service campaign that was photographed by Annie Leibovitz and featuring high-profile models such as Christie Brinkley, Paulina Porizkova and Andie MacDowell. The tagline was, “For the future of our children. Support the American Foundation for AIDS Research. We do.” At the time, AIDS was still a relatively unknown and misunderstood disease. Cole managed to procure nearly 3 million dollars worth of donated exposure and press. In 1987, he was invited to join amfAR’s board.
In 2005, Cole spearheaded the “We All Have AIDS” awareness campaign with advertisements photographed by Mark Seliger and featuring such luminaries as Nelson Mandela, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Elton John, Sharon Stone, Richard Gere, Elizabeth Taylor, Alicia Keys, Desmond Tutu, Natasha Richardson, Eric McCormack, Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Belafonte, Greg Louganis and Rosie O'Donnell. He also has annual World AIDS Day promotions in his retail stores.
In August 2006, it was announced that Kenneth Cole Productions would stop selling fur in all of their garments for the Fall 2007 Fashion Season.
Cole is also very active with HELP USA (his wife Maria Cuomo Cole is currently Chair of the Board), a non-profit organization that is the nation’s largest provider of housing, jobs and services for the homeless. Recently, he partnered with rock star Jon Bon Jovi to create a line of jackets, t-shirts and fragrance under the Kenneth Cole New York label. The proceeds from the sale of these items supported HELP USA.
Other charity campaigns include establishing relief funds for victims of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina respectively through the sale of t-shirts, giving discounts at his retail stores for donating shoes or clothes to the homeless and hosting numerous charity shopping nights at retail stores throughout the nation.
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