Kenneth Cole’s recent Google Glass experiment had me flipping through the designer’s ad archives, which are located on his website. For over 30 years, Cole has been at the forefront of fashion and advertising with his socially conscious ads. From equality and health to political scandal and society’s unerring self-obsession, Cole’s brand and style are deeply rooted in his commitment to social issues. His ideals are serious, but his ads often offer some comic relief with tongue-in-cheek copy, such as “You are a product of your jeans,” and, “Wear a Rubber sole.” His easy, almost comedic use of political conflict for the sake of his brand has allowed him to spin events as diverse as the Iran Contra hearings and the current marriage equality debate into ads that memorialize our age. They’ve also brought him under fire, as in 2013, when one of his tweets was construed as callousness over the Syrian Civil War.
"Boots on the ground" or not, let's not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear
— Kenneth Cole (@KennethCole) September 5, 2013
The designer had this to say on his image:
Below is a selection of some of his most well-known ads, starting from the era of full-page magazine ads to today’s digital realm.