Monday, Jun. 06, 2011

Kenneth Cole and the Arab Spring

When the Arab Spring took hold in Egypt earlier this year, the uprisings made headlines around the world. And while many people got on the revolution bandwagon, fashion designer Kenneth Cole decided to capitalize on the resulting press momentum to promote his clothing collection. On Feb. 3, Cole tweeted "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC" The missive was widely mocked for being insensitive (at best) and downright offensive (at worst), and even spawned a satirical KennethColePR twitter account. "South Africans won't be able to tear APARTheid my new knits — they're just that strong! #KennethColeTweets," one (spoof) message read. Cole offered a clarification: "We weren't intending to make light of a serious situation," before finally apologizing in a Facebook post later the same day. But by then, Cole's flub had long gone viral, and his written regrets did little to calm the ensuing controversy.