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Sources: Licensing Suitors Are Pursuing Kenneth Cole Shoe Business

Kenneth Cole’s shoe business is attracting the interest of licensing suitors, sources close to the company told FN.

The 38-year-old company, which founder and namesake Kenneth Cole took private in 2012, is said to be entertaining a licensing deal for its men’s and women’s footwear collections. Shoes remain the biggest segment for the New York-based brand.

Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. declined to comment.

Cole has 28 other licensed categories, including men’s and women’s outerwear, fragrance, watches, optical, luggage and home.

In September, the company entered into a licensing agreement with Esquire Brands to manufacture and distribute its children’s footwear. Starting with spring ’21, Esquire will produce and distribute the kids’ category under the Kenneth Cole New York, Kenneth Cole Reaction and Unlisted labels. The collections will be sold at major department stores and select specialty retailers.

Like many fashion companies, Kenneth Cole pivoted to the PPE business this year as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

The company first launched a black premium face mask style as part of the “Wear This Together” campaign, to encourage mask wearing at a critical time. A neoprene look was the next big debut, and now Cole has evolved the collection to include a full selection of fabrics and prints.

Meanwhile, the founder and his company continue to be philanthropic forces.

In May, during Mental Health Awareness Month, the designer and social activist launched The Mental Health Coalition. Today, in honor of Giving Tuesday, Kenneth Cole has partnered with Shopping Gives, a platform that allows retailers to donate a portion of proceeds to a nonprofit that customers select at checkout.

Today also marks World AIDS Day, and Cole took to Instagram to reflect on his three decades of work for the cause.

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