175 Makers of History: Kenneth Cole

Kenneth Cole 76C
Fashion Designer; Social Activist

Kenneth Cole

After attending Emory, Kenneth Cole postponed his law school plans to serve as manager of his father's Brooklyn shoe factory, helping the company grow into a $100-million-plus conglomerate. He decided to strike out on his own in 1982, launching Kenneth Cole Productions, which now boasts a full line of fashion designs.

In 1985, Cole was the first member of the fashion community to take a public stand in the fight against AIDS, and he continues to take a stand on social issues. His gifts to Emory helped to establish a program to train students in community-building skills to mobilize residents, community-based groups, government agencies, businesses, foundations, universities, and nonprofits to strengthen low-income families and rebuild inner-city neighborhoods.