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We kinda sensed that something was up with Kenneth Cole when they decided to sublease about a third of its Magnificent Mile storefront in late 2009 to Swiss crystal-slingers, Swarovski. Now word has come that the Chicago flagship and eight other KC brick-and-mortar locations nationwide—including the massive 13,000-square-foot Rockefeller Center store in New York—will be biting the dust in the coming months. Kenneth Cole opened the roughly 9,000-square-foot storefront in the Chicago Marriott Downtown building in 1998 as part of a major brand expansion by the New York designer.
The 29-year-old label, which has continued to make waves with its eyebrow-raising ad campaigns but failed to reach out to fashionistas in recent years, has experienced its share of ups and downs. With revenue falling in the past couple years, Kenneth Cole was forced to cut costs by putting expansions on hold and trimming back the size of some of its existing ones. The company however, for better or for worse, inked an exclusive Reaction menswear partnership with Macy's last March.
Back in its heydays, we were able to complement our wardrobe with mid-priced, well-tailored sportswear and decent shoes from Kenneth Cole—with a good chunk of the collection made in Italy. When we surveyed the final blowout sale over the weekend, most (if not all) of the merchandise were pretty drab looking and manufactured in China, signaling a drastic change in taste and design direction over the past few years.
Before Kenneth Cole packs up its shoe boxes and officially says goodbye to MichAve on January 24, you can rummage through what’s left of their closing sale currently taking place. Menswear are all discounted at 50% off and can be returned; women’s apparel are reduced at 70% off and cannot be returned. No word yet on what the next incarnation of this prime storefront will be.