Kenneth Cole and Andreja Pejic Talk Socially Conscious Brand Transformation

kenneth cole and andreja pejic - H 2015
Courtesy of Kenneth Cole

The longtime designer recently launched a new store concept, logo, product line, e-commerce site and ad campaign featuring the model.

After becoming the first transgender model to star in a major beauty campaign (for Make Up For Ever), it seems Andreja Pejic is more in demand than ever. For one, the Aussie model is a face in fashion designer Kenneth Cole’s latest campaign, and part of the socially conscious rebranding effort launched this fall season themed “The Courageous Class.”

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Says Cole, “The Courageous Class is an idea born of the brand’s legacy as an aspirational, urban style brand with a fearless voice for social justice that empowers many to 'Look good, for good.'” This campaign is part of a 360-degree effort to makeover the label into “the global standard for New York style and social consciousness,” says Cole. That means a new global flagship store on Bowery in NYC and future curated shop concepts integrated with technology, a fresh e-commerce site, logo and utilitarian, versatile urban clothing and product.

In addition, there’s the ad campaign. “I had been introduced to Andreja through my work with amfAR and I was immediately inspired by her story and her courage,” says Cole. The other featured personalities are what he calls “real life heroes” from different walks of life who have overcome personal challenges in pursuit of their dreams. “They are the protagonists in their own personal stories of resilience, optimism and ambition.”

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To showcase these courageous individuals, the brand called on photographer Glen Luchford. “There was a big emphasis on our story and what we stood for, and that was really cool,” says Pejic of the experience working with the “iconic and amazing” lensman for the first time. “Kenneth Cole wanted to celebrate us rather than focus on the product.”

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Adds the model, “I loved the combination of fashion film and interview — there is no reason we can’t be stylish, cool and do good in this world. In fact, the two should go hand in hand.” In this instance that good might be as simple as increased understanding. “I hope [viewers] see the humanity in me and in all of us and I hope it inspires them to either let go of stereotypes or to live their lives at least a little more freely than they already are,” says Pejic.