Kenneth Cole Reaction

Shop Kenneth Cole Reaction

The Kenneth Cole Reaction brand was introduced by Kenneth Cole Productions in 1996 as a more casual and less expensive alternative to the manufacturer's other lines. The fashion designer originally launched his company in 1982 with the introduction of a ladies' footwear collection. Cole wanted to showcase his products during New York's market week but couldn't afford a hotel room, so he tried to get a parking permit for a truck that he could sleep in during the event. After finding out that only motion picture production companies could get these permits, the crafty entrepreneur renamed his business as Kenneth Cole Productions and claimed to be working on a full-length movie called The Birth of a Shoe Company. With its unique trailer and mysterious presence, the brand sold 40,000 pairs of shoes during the event, and Cole kept the name as an homage to the company's bizarre start.

Within just a few years, Cole had opened stores across the country, and his company was so successful that it went public in 1994. From footwear, his brand expanded to include accessories for men, women, and children. Kenneth Cole New York (the name given to the original line) was a luxury collection that was out of reach for most consumers, so Kenneth Cole Reaction cut the average price of goods in half and made the manufacturer's clothes available to a much wider range of American families. Today, there are more than 100 Kenneth Cole retail stores located around the world, and the brand's products are also sold at major department stores.

Babies & Kids Merchandise


While Kenneth Cole Reaction has started branching out into a limited selection of general apparel for kids, the majority of the product line for little ones continues to revolve around footwear. For girls, you'll find options like ballet flats, Mary Janes, riding boots, pumps, and sandals. Shoes range from toddler size 5 to adult size 6 and run the gamut from casual to dressy. For boys, the selection of styles includes loafers, oxfords, boots, and a few types of sneakers. The boys' collection--which ranges from toddler size 5 to adult size 7--puts a major emphasis on dress shoes as opposed to casual varieties. Boys have more choices in terms of other apparel, such as Kenneth Cole Reaction graphic tees, polos, hoodies, button-down shirts, and shorts

Mom rating

While some children's brands draw a distinct line between apparel for kids and small versions of adult styles, Kenneth Cole Reaction tends much more toward the latter option. Footwear selections could easily be worn by trendy twenty-somethings if they were made in larger sizes. As is, your child might look out of place wearing these shoes with other casual kids' brands--though formal footwear will fit in perfectly at events like weddings and holidays.

Kenneth Cole Productions has long used its influence in the fashion industry to help raise awareness about social causes. Cole began raising money for AIDS research in 1985, when the topic was still very taboo. The company has also gone on to fundraise for victims of major disasters like the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina. For this reason, you can be sure that at least some portion of the profits from your purchases goes to worthy causes. Though Kenneth Cole Reaction won't appeal to everyone, its shoes (and limited line of apparel) are of a very high quality, so we give the brand 4 stars out of 5.

Kenneth Cole Reaction logo
  • Established 1996
  • Trendy footwear
Sold at:
Kenneth Cole stores, major department stores, online
Types of items:
Ballet flats, Mary Janes, boots, heels, loafers, oxfords, sneakers, shorts, graphic tees, polos, tanks, button-down shirts, jackets, slacks, suits, underwear, neckties, belts, purses, luggage, wallets
Related brands:
Kenneth Cole New York, Kenneth Cole Collection, Gentle Souls, Kenneth Cole Unlisted, Tribeca, Le Tigre
Our rating: