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Awareness of the Issues through Kenneth Cole's "Awearness"

Renata Espinosa Wed Mar 19, 2:35 PM ET

New York - Characteristically sleek clothing for your average modern urban dweller is what Kenneth Cole excels in, and his Fall 2008 clothing and accessories collections for men and women prove no different at a presentation in Cole's showroom at the company headquarters in New York on Tuesday, March 18.

This year, the company celebrates its 25th anniversary, with a host of events planned in celebration. In a couple of weeks, singer Josh Kelley will perform at a Kenneth Cole party in L.A., and later this year a book featuring interviews with people involved in a variety of social and political causes on the topic of volunteerism and giving back will be released.

This season, Kenneth Cole's menswear collection was designed in-house, with a solid selection of coats (wool, bomber, puffer), some with interesting details like sculpted elbow guard-like panel pieces, as well as casual-meets-dressy denim flat-front trousers, and a host of leather satchels and briefcases for which Cole is a particular favorite.

For women, chunky knits reigned supreme, especially wraps and batwing-sleeved sweaters, to be layered over silk shells in a vibrant color. Jacket sleeves took a rounded, seamless approach to achieve a sculptured shoulder effect. In shoes, high-heeled booties are still going strong for Fall ‘08, with versions in fuchsia or raspberry. Color-block pumps with patent leather toes and heels also looked chic.

In both the men's and women's collections, shades of lipstick red, raspberry and midnight blue added a touch of cool color to an otherwise functional-in-the-concrete-jungle palette of gray and black.

But the real story for Kenneth Cole is not so much the fashion, but his concern with some of the bigger issues facing humanity today. Cole, who is known for his catchy, sloganeering ad campaigns that often shed light on social causes, has made social awareness a primary objective over the years. He's the chairman of AmFar and also supports Help USA, a non-profit organization that aids the homeless.

This past fashion week, for example, Cole opted not to show his collection on the runway but the brand's presence was still felt on Super Tuesday, when the company conducted a poll of various fashion week attendees on topics related to politics and the environment. They then published the results on their newly launched blog, "Awearness."

Kenneth Cole's "Awearness" campaign ("To be aware is more important than what you wear," reads the Kenneth Cole slogan on the company's website) began last summer to encompass all the charitable work of the company, and each season a new group of t-shirts is released with a portion of the proceeds from sales going towards the "Awearness Fund." Everything from AIDS, to global warming, to same-sex marriage is addressed in the designs.

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