Brandon Maxwell and Kenneth Cole to be honoured at AAFA Awards

Brandon Maxwell and Kenneth Cole are to be honoured at the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) Awards.The designers are among five individuals and companies who will be feted at the AAFA’s American Image Awards to be held at New York’s Plaza…

Brandon Maxwell and Kenneth Cole are to be honoured at the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) Awards.

The designers are among five individuals and companies who will be feted at the AAFA’s American Image Awards to be held at New York’s Plaza Hotel in New York in April next year.

Shoe designer Cole is the recipient of Person of the Year, while Maxwell, who was the creative genius behind Lady Gaga’s 2019 Met Gala look, will be awarded Designer of the Year.

Ralph Lauren Corp. will receive Company of the Year, Chinese conglomerate Alibaba Group will take home Retail Innovator of the Year, and U.S. TV show Project Runway, which airs on Bravo, will receive Fashion Maverick.

Rick Helfenbein, president and chief executive officer of AAFA, said this year’s award winners “exemplify” the ideology of celebrating the future of fashion.

“Not only are these individuals and companies successfully delivering quality and innovative products, but they are also leading our industry across key global performance issues including environmental stewardship and social responsibility,” he commented.

The gala will be hosted by journalist Brooke Baldwin and will benefit the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Foundation, which is currently chaired by designer Tom Ford.

Steven Kolb, president and chief executive officer of the CFDA, added, “We are appreciative of the support the AAFA has given to the CFDA over the past four years. Our efforts to develop and operate impactful programming are directly strengthened through our relationship with the AAFA.”

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Donna Karan blasts fashion industry for becoming too boring

Donna Karan wants to see more diversity on the fashion runways.The New York-based designer has opened up about her views on the ever-changing industry and recalled a much simpler time back in the 1970s when each nation had its own unique style on the c…

Donna Karan wants to see more diversity on the fashion runways.

The New York-based designer has opened up about her views on the ever-changing industry and recalled a much simpler time back in the 1970s when each nation had its own unique style on the catwalk.

“Everybody was individualised. You had the American world, the British world, the French world, the Italian world,” she said in an interview for Footwear News. “And it was… the Americans were black. The British were (punk), France was colour and Italy was neutral.

“Now, everything’s alike. You can’t tell the difference,” Karan sighed, adding that everybody is dressing the same nowadays, which makes it difficult for her to design on-trend clothes.

“I like to feel the differentiation between our cultures. And that’s where I’m at, which is a little bit different than most designers.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Karan, who has recently launched an exclusive shoe collection with Kenneth Cole in collaboration with artisans in Haiti, complained about the rise of social media and how it’s ruining fashion by showing collections from designers before they are even ready to be released.

“I believe we’re giving too much information out. And now, because of communication, everybody sees everything. You know, and the customers see it six months before, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever,” the 71-year-old insisted. “In the fashion industry, the consumer is confused. She’s seeing too much – early. And then it finally comes in, it’s boring because she wants buy now, wear now.”

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Kenneth Cole forms new mental health coalition

Kenneth Cole has taken critical action in an effort to destigmatise mental health conditions.The American designer has brought together a variety of non-profit organisations, businesses, brands, celebrities and social media platforms for The Mental Hea…

Kenneth Cole has taken critical action in an effort to destigmatise mental health conditions.

The American designer has brought together a variety of non-profit organisations, businesses, brands, celebrities and social media platforms for The Mental Health Coalition.

Cole’s new project will try to change the negative language used to describe mental health by introducing a new non-stigmatised vocabulary in an effort to create a “cultural shift” that helps sufferers feel empowered and embrace their conditions.

The 65-year-old announced his plans on Thursday, which was World Mental Health Day, and the coalition will officially be available to the public in May next year, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people will experience a mental health condition in their lives.

The Mental Health Coalition will first begin to tackle the rising problem of mental illness in young people aged 15 to 25, as it is believed that treatments are more likely to have a long-term impact in that age group.

“I’m overwhelmed by the inspiring group of individuals and organisations who have agreed to join us in this critical effort to tackle an unprecedented crisis in an unprecedented way,” Cole said in a statement. “There is a role for everyone to play. We look forward to welcoming all like-minded organisations to join this collaborative effort at mentalhealthcoalition.org.”

The founding partners in The Mental Health Coalition include The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Bring Change to Mind, Child Mind Institute, Crisis Text Line, JED Foundation, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness and The Trevor Project.

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Donna Karan and Kenneth Cole team up with local artisans in Haiti for sandal collection

Donna Karan and Kenneth Cole have teamed up with a group of local artisans in Haiti for a new sandal collection.The DKNY founder and clothing designer have both been working on healthcare and education initiatives in the Caribbean country since it was …

Donna Karan and Kenneth Cole have teamed up with a group of local artisans in Haiti for a new sandal collection.

The DKNY founder and clothing designer have both been working on healthcare and education initiatives in the Caribbean country since it was devastated by an earthquake in 2010.

The 70-year-old designer is currently producing leather footwear in the troubled country through her luxury lifestyle brand, Urban Zen, but was prompted to discuss a potential partnership with Cole after purchasing a pair of his sustainable Gentle Souls sandals.

“Everyone was constantly asking where I got my sandals,” Karan told Vogue.com. “They are seriously the most comfortable shoes in the entire world – they are beyond comfortable. I can’t even explain it!”

The 65-year-old designer and his team had been working with a group of artisans making shoes out of local materials, but he confessed they were “a little stiff and uncomfortable”, so he and Karan connected with Pascale Theard, a highly-skilled workshop owner.

The 10 designs combine Cole’s comfortable, foam soles with traditional Haitian leather-working, and the collection features gladiator sandals with cushioned soles, fringed and embroidered leather uppers, and braided straps that wrap around the ankle.

“You know when you try on a shoe and go, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ It’s that kind of feeling when you put these on,” Karan gushed. “(I want) things that go from day to night, with an artisanal hand, with a story, with a meaning, with a soul.”

“Hopefully it becomes an ongoing sustainable business,” Cole shared. “If nothing else, it shines a light on a culture that deserves to be celebrated.”

The shoes are available to buy online, with prices starting at $325 (£260).

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Fashion industry leaders pay tribute to Kate Spade

Fashion industry leaders have paid tribute to famed accessories designer Kate Spade.The 55-year-old, who founded Kate Spade New York alongside her husband Andy Spade in 1993, was found dead after apparently taking her own life in her Manhattan apartmen…

Fashion industry leaders have paid tribute to famed accessories designer Kate Spade.

The 55-year-old, who founded Kate Spade New York alongside her husband Andy Spade in 1993, was found dead after apparently taking her own life in her Manhattan apartment on Tuesday (05Jun18).

News of her death has stunned members of the fashion community, with officials at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) leading the tributes.

“The CFDA is devastated to hear the news of our friend, colleague, and CFDA member Kate Spade’s tragic passing,” a representative said in a statement. “She was a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories.”

Designer Kenneth Cole took to Twitter to share a message, writing that Spade left an “indelible mark” on the fashion business and was a “true visionary. While footwear designer Steve Madden shared a similar sentiment.

“All of us at Steve Madden are devastated to hear the news of Kate Spade’s death,” he told Footwear News. “She was too young to go. When I was coming up at Steve Madden, I looked up to Kate Spade and admired her work. She was truly an original.”

Spade, known for her stylish handbags, sold off her brand to Neiman Marcus Group in 2006, with the company acquired by Tapestry, parent company of Coach, for $2.4 billion (£1.5 billion) in May 2017.

Accordingly, Coach and Kate Spade New York representatives also honoured the fashion star.

“The Coach family mourns the loss of visionary designer Kate Spade. Our thoughts are with her family at this time,” a Coach rep posted on Instagram, while brand executives added: “Kate Spade, the visionary founder of our brand has passed. We honour all the beauty she brought into this world.”

A number of Hollywood celebrities also shared condolences, including Mindy Kaling, Lucy Hale, Lena Dunham, Olivia Munn and Bryce Dallas Howard, who was a Kate Spade brand ambassador in 2001.

“What a devastating morning to hear that one of our most beloved American designers has passed,” the actress posted on Instagram. “I hope that both her and her company’s work to bring fashion and women’s economic success to everyone continues as her legacy unfolds. My love is with her family and friends at this very sad time.”

Spade is survived by her husband and daughter Frances.

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Kenneth Cole deletes ‘misinterpreted’ tribute to Kate Spade

Kenneth Cole has revamped his tribute to Kate Spade after upsetting her followers by suggesting she was “an accessory”. The 55-year-old, who founded Kate Spade New York alongside her husband Andy Spade in 1993, was found dead after apparently taking he…

Kenneth Cole has revamped his tribute to Kate Spade after upsetting her followers by suggesting she was “an accessory”.

The 55-year-old, who founded Kate Spade New York alongside her husband Andy Spade in 1993, was found dead after apparently taking her own life in her Manhattan apartment on Tuesday (05Jun18).

Shortly after learning of Spade’s death, Cole offered up his thoughts in a cryptic tweet.

“She alone didn’t change the handbag world but she was an inspiring accessory. #KateSpade #RIP,” he wrote.

However, many online users found the message to be insensitive, with some branding the note to be “rude” and “tone-deaf”.

Cole, 64, returned to social media a few hours later and reworked his tribute.

“Kate Spade left an indelible mark on the fashion industry and her inspiring life and work will be missed,” he stated. “We lost a true visionary today. My heart goes out to her family and to all she has touched.”

He also deleted his original tweet and told Page Six, “I often say, ‘We may not heel the world, but we hope to be an accessory.’ After posting the tweet, I realised there may have been room for misinterpretation.”

Spade’s family members have also released a statement after the designer was found in her Park Avenue home in Manhattan.

“We are all devastated by today’s tragedy,” they said. “We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly. We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.”

Spade is survived by her husband and her 13-year-old daughter Frances.

Diane von Furstenberg, Bette Midler, Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and Bryce Dallas Howard are also among the celebrities and fashion elite who have also paid tribute to Spade.

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Kenneth Cole to expand international presence with new partnership

Kenneth Cole has signed a deal with Global Brands Group to boost international growth.The fashion house was founded in 1982 by designer Kenneth Cole, with the brand later expanding to include footwear, fragrance and accessories. But Cole is now making…

Kenneth Cole has signed a deal with Global Brands Group to boost international growth.

The fashion house was founded in 1982 by designer Kenneth Cole, with the brand later expanding to include footwear, fragrance and accessories.

But Cole is now making moves to ramp up its presence outside of the U.S., and executives announced on Wednesday (21Mar18) that they had partnered with Global Brands.

“We are looking forward to having a Central European-based partner who specialises in footwear and is able to offer best-in-class service to department stores and independent retailers in these regions,” said Kenneth Cole chief executive officer Marc Schneider, according to Footwear News. “We are excited about this partnership and the growth opportunities it affords us in these categories of our business.”

Hong Kong-based Global Brands designs, develops, markets and sells products under a diverse array of owned and licensed brands, with the company either owning or having significant control over labels such as Calvin Klein, Under Armour, Juicy Couture, Frye, Joe’s, Cole Haan and Spyder.

Cole is looking to push its Kenneth Cole New York and Reaction Kenneth Cole collections, with Global Brands bosses keen to get the apparel sold in retailers in cities in London, Paris and Milan.

“Kenneth Cole and his brand had defined the standard for New York style and social consciousness for more than three decades,” added Mike Hiscock of Global Brands Group. “We believe (the label) has tremendous potential to resonate with consumers far beyond the levels it is currently reaching.”

Global Brands will also manufacture handbags for Cole, with the first totes set to drop later in the year.

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Kenneth Cole resigns as amfAR chairman after Weinstein controversy

Kenneth Cole has stepped down as the amfAR chairman, three months after a group of AIDS activists called for his resignation.The American designer has chaired amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, since 2005, but his credentials were called into que…

Kenneth Cole has stepped down as the amfAR chairman, three months after a group of AIDS activists called for his resignation.

The American designer has chaired amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, since 2005, but his credentials were called into question in October (17) when The Huffington Post published a report concerning a controversial deal Cole had made with disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

The deal allegedly involved settling a $600,000 (£457,000) financial obligation to the American Repertory Theater (ART) by hosting a charity auction in Cannes with amfAR in 2015, though Cole hit back at reports as a “false narrative and distortion of facts”.

More than 60 AIDS activists, including Olympic diver Greg Louganis and playwright Larry Kramer, signed an open letter in November asking Cole to resign, which he has now officially done.

“Today my 14-year term as chairman concludes,” Cole said at the amfAR Gala in New York on Wednesday night. “It has been a true privilege to work alongside so many talented, dedicated and committed individuals. Through my ongoing work as the U.N. AIDS ambassador and with the U.N. AIDS Coalition, I remain personally committed to aligning resources and galvanising global action and working with amfAR to make AIDS history.”

Stars including Ashley Graham, Heidi Klum, and Taraji P. Henson were in attendance at the bash, which honoured writer-director Lee Daniels and W magazine editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi.

In a separate statement released by Cole, the 63-year-old spoke of his pride at working with the organisation for more than 30 years.

“The amfAR board has adopted a number of governance reforms that will ensure our beloved organisation can continue to thrive,” he added. “One of these is instituting term limits for board members which is why I, along with four of my colleagues, will be stepping down from the board. In the interim, I will continue to serve as an honorary chairman and be part of the process for selecting a new and committed chairman.”

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