Kenneth Cole Shoes Review and Quality – What Is Left?


Kenneth Cole Shoes – Can we Still find Quality on a Budget.


Intro: Little Beginnings

Big things start small, a little here and a little there. As long as there is passion there will always be a way. The story of the Kenneth Cole shoe brand is as inspiring as it gets and start-up entrepreneurs can learn something new from the humble beginning of a brand that has been listed 4 times in Forbes on their annual list of 200 best small companies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you a review of the Kenneth Cole Production with a special emphasis on shoes for men. Let’s find out how deep the rabbit hole goes, where they have been and what quality the shoes present to the modern day man.

Shop Kenneth Cole | Oxfords | Slip-ons | Sneakers | Boots | Sandals

Brief History of the Kenneth Cole Brand

For Kenneth Cole, his inspiration for the fashion business started right from home. He was born in Brooklyn, New York where his Dad, Charles Cole ran a shoe manufacturing business. After graduating from school, Kenneth went on to learn the family business and it was not until 1982 did he with genuine innovation and a taste for success find the silver bullet that propelled him to start a company.

Kenneth Cole

The Birth of Kenneth Cole Production

Kenneth Cole production is an American fashion house that was formed from very interesting circumstances. In 1982 Kenneth was in dear need for exposure, he had just started a shoe company named Kenneth Cole Incorporated and was desperate to show the world what he was made of.  He knew he had something people needed, the only problem he had was how to pass the message of his brand to a wider audience. Capital was dwindling, he had workers to pay and bills to offset. Something needed to be done fast.

Where others saw an obstacle he saw success and not even a lean pocket would stop him. There must be a way around. He wanted to preview his new line of business at the market week at the New York Hilton but didn’t have the resources to afford a hotel room to showcase his shoes.

With a stroke of ingenuity, luck or revelation, whatever you call it, he made the biggest decision of his life; he enquired about what it took to park a trailer just two blocks from the New York Hilton. That decision was the light bulb event that propelled him to the limelight.

When he discovered that permits were only granted to utility and production companies, Kenneth Cole made the move to change the name of his company from Kenneth Cole Incorporated to Kenneth Cole Production. He obtained a license to produce the full-length movie “The Birth of a shoe company” and in the space of two and a half days, Kenneth Cole Productions sold over 40,000 pairs of shoes. He was in money!!

Kenneth Cole Company

Company Details

CEO: Marc Schneider (Feb 23, 2015– till date) | Founder: Kenneth Cole 1982

Headquarters:  New York City, United States | Customer service: +1 800-536-2653

Locations: Over 110 worldwide | Web Address:

Owner: Kenneth Cole, with 45% stake.

Major Lines of Kenneth Cole

  • Kenneth Cole Collections: Launched in 2012
  • Kenneth Cole New York: This is presently the second most expensive line that consists of men and women accessories within the price range $100 – $795
  • Kenneth Cole Reaction: A lesser priced line than the Kenneth Cole New York costing within $35-$250.The Kenneth Cole reaction line was launched in 1996 and it’s made up of casual accessories and clothes for both men and women.
  • Kenneth Cole Unlisted: The budget friendly line of Kenneth Cole designed to cater to a wider audience. Consist of handbags, clothing, and accessories for men and women. Cost between $25-$100.

Other lines include Kenneth Cole Gentle souls( $80-$300) for women, Tribeca, Le Tigre and a host of other subsidiary lines marketed and distributed by Haggar Canada and Co. Ltd.

 Kenneth Cole Reaction Shoes

Kenneth cole reaction shoes

4 Best Selling Kenneth Cole Reaction Oxfords

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Set the Stage Oxford Shoe

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men's Set the Stage Oxford ShoeThe set the stage oxford by Kenneth Cole is a 100% suede shoe that requires great care if you are to get the most out it.   The two color variations available are Navy and Brown. I wish they had them in black, which would have been awesome.

It’s a pretty low shoe and the heel measures about an inch. This derby shoe will help you transit quickly from formal to casual occasions because of the design and appearance.

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Pure Hearted Oxford

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men's Pure Hearted OxfordIf you don’t like suede then the Kenneth Cole pure Hearted Oxford might just be a better option for you than the set stage Oxford. It comes in the popular black and cognac colors suitable for straight pants and button down shirt combinations.

100% leather material with a synthetic sole and a heel that measures approximately 1 inch.

The insoles are padded for extra comfort and the laser lining details on the upper provide more styling options.

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Skate-Trick Oxford

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men's Skate-Trick Oxford

The look and feel of the skate-trick Oxford are that of rich rugged heritage and class.

The outsoles, in particular, are made of rubber providing the much need grip and durability. It has 4 blind eyelets and a smooth leather upper construction that should be easy to maintain.

The two widely acceptable colors of black and brown are available. Comfortable? We think so, at least after the break in period is over.

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s SELF REVIEW Oxford

Of the four Oxford shoes listed in this section, this shoe is the most expensive.

The bike toe construction is designed with an elastic gore for extra comfort and fitting. Made in Romanian these shoes are true to size and would just require a little break in period to fit just right.

For that business casual look, make this your go to shoe. They look better in person than they look in pictures. Highly, recommended!!

You might be hesitant to buy them just because they are new in the market but trust us; you will be making the right choice for a mid-priced shoe.

Best Low Cost Kenneth Cole Reaction Boots

kenneth Cole Boots Banner

Let’s take a look at some Kenneth Cole boots in combat, winter and Chelsea form. This is by no means an exhaustive list as there are a whole lot of Kenneth Cole boots. We will update this list often.

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Con Man Boot

Con man bootI really don’t know where the con man name for this boot came from, but it is one hell of a boot.

The two tone leather construction is really classy, and for the price, this boot is a steal. They are amazing engineering boots that can be worn although the day without hurting the feet. The shaft measures approximately 7.5 inches from the arch while the heel is 1.25 inch high.

The pop of color lining along the outsole just adds extra style and unique appearance to the shoes.

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Direct Route Combat Boot

Kenneth Cole Direct Route combat bootNext is the polished leather Cole Reaction direct route combat boot, featuring an inside zipped entry, a rubber sole, and smooth leather lining.

This cap toe constructed boot is as good and comfortable as it gets, one trick to get the most out of any pair of shoes for that matter is to leave an extended shoe tree in the shoes for about a week. This helps break the shoes in leaving them just right for active wear.

Highly, recommended!! 

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Desert Sun SU Chukka Boot

Kenneth Cole Desert Sun Boot Kenneth Cole desert Sun Chukka boot is as good as chukka boot gets. One merit of this shoe is that you will find it in a lot of color options, 21 color options to be precise i.e. desert sun, steel, brick, brown, dark taupe and a lot more options. So if you are on the lookout for a Kenneth Cole Chukka, be rest assured you will find a pair you like with this.

The chukka features a synthetic sole in a low cut profile with three blind eyelets and striped midsole.They are very comfortable and quite stylish. As with most suede shoes, don’t expect these to be waterproof and go playing under the rain, you will just end up ruining the color. 

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Single Mind Combat Boot

kenneth Cole Single Mind Combat BootThe Kenneth Cole direct route boot discussed above has one inside zipper but this single mind Combat boot has both inner and outer zippers. The ruggedly built rubber sole provides for grip and traction eliminating the possibility of slipping off easily.

Some customers have argued that the zippers of these combat boots hardly stay up and a two zipper combat boot is unnecessary. However, I think they are stylish and fit just right.

3 Best Selling Kenneth Cole Reaction Sneakers

Kenneth Cole Reaction Sneakers

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s on the Road Fashion Sneaker

Road Fashion SneakersThe synthetic sole, padded insole and lightweight outsole of the Kenneth Cole on the Road fashion sneaker will keep your feet comfortable for a long time. Low top sneakers are renowned for their incredible comfort and this sneaker is no exception. If you are looking for something easy and comfortable for long walks or for casual wear, try this sneaker out.

The knitted upper ensures maximum breathability ensuring your feet are well aerated at all times. The road fashion sneaker is incredibly light and it’s affordable.

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Take A Stroll Fashion Sneaker

take a stroll fashion sneaker The stroll fashion sneaker is a 100% suede low top sneaker by Kenneth Cole. The upper is designed for maximum breathability allowing easy perspiration.

Sweaty feet, no problem with this sneakers, they will leave your feet aerated and dry at all times. The dark rust color is a personal favorite although blue and dark taupes are nice color options. 

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Sky Rocket Fashion Sneaker

Sky rocket fashion sneakerThe sky rocket fashion sneaker by Kenneth Cole is made of suede and a little higher than the two sneakers discussed above. It’s more of a mid-top sneaker with synthetic soles and a padded collar.

They might not be as comfortable as a nice pair of vans but they are really stylish. Wear them with denim and a nice polo shirt and you are bound to have series of compliments all day long.

Best Available Kenneth Cole Slip-on Loafers

Next, we take a look at some of my favorite Kenneth Cole top slip-on loafers. I only have three listed here but there are a whole lot of these loafers in a variety of styles, shapes, and colors. This list, however, should get you started. If you have bought any of these shoes or would want to share your experience please let us know in the comments section.

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Herd the Word Slip-on Loafer

Herd the word slip on loafer Herd the word slip-on loafer makes my list because of its intricate shape that makes it look really stylish. For me, the Taupe color variant is the best of them all, you might want to test your style skill with the Navy or Grey color but I will pick the Taupe over them all.

The material is made of suede and leather in 80:20 ratios respectively and crafted in embossed suede upper and a leather tonal finish. The center medallion and leather bit across the tongue adds a little bit of depth to the shoes that distinguishes it from millions of loafers out there.

There you have it, a moc toe driver that will easily mold to your feet, perfect for jeans, linen or shorts.

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Toast 2 Me Slip-on Loafer

Toast to me slip on loafer I have seen these shoes in 8 color variants; midnight navy, red, taupe, cognac, rust brown, Merlot, dark brown and black. They all look stunning, am sure suede lovers will grab 2 or 3 pairs.

In particular, I like the high rise moc toe look and the buckle strap at the sides.

Play close attention to the cognac color variant. Lastly, I think these shoes are true to size, order your size like you do ordering for a Nike shoe and it will fit in properly.

Kenneth Cole REACTION Men’s Prize Winner Boat Shoe

Winner boat shoe This boat shoe was crafted using 80% textile material and 20% synthetic material. Product details a rubber sole, padded insole and contrasted color laces and stitch. If you have wide feet, then this shoe could fit properly. What’s strikingly different about this boat shoe, is the denim appearance. Very stylish and comfortable.

Kenneth Cole New York Shoes  – Higher Quality

Kenneth Cole new York shoes

As discussed above the Kenneth Cole New York lines are the second most expensive collection of the brand. Price ranges are within $100 – $795. I have carefully selected some of the men’s shoes from among the most popular categories that I think will be worth your time and money.

It doesn’t always follow that the more expensive a product gets the better the quality. Can we make an exception to that rule with the Kenneth Cole New York collections?  Let’s find out

Kenneth Cole New York Oxfords Shoes

Kenneth Cole new York oxfords

Kenneth Cole New York Men’s WINNING TICKET Oxford

Kenneth Cole Winning Ticket oxfordThe winning ticket oxford shoes by Kenneth Cole were designed with a silver technology gel pod for extra comfort. The technology was developed in an effort to compete with Cole Haan’s merger with Nike.

The laser detailing at the upper region adds the much needed intricate style option. Other features are rubber soles, wingtip design and air let holes for breathability. Sells for approximately $150 – $170

Kenneth Cole New York Men’s Total Access Le Plain Toe Shoe Oxford

Plain toe OxfordThe total access le plain toe shoe by Kenneth Cole features leather and rubber sole with blind-eyelets and a lace-up vamp. The sole is constructed using a welt technique; this means they can be resoled once they wear out.

It’s perfect for dress pants and suits and suitable for the boardroom and all other formal dress occasions. What I like about this particular shoe are the blind eyelets that sit just above the upper and the polished looking leather material. It is more of a dressier shoe than casual.  Strictly formal.

Kenneth Cole New York Men’s Coat Armour Oxford

Kenneth Cole Men's Coat Armour oxfordThe Kenneth Cole New York Coat Armour shoe is made from a premium Italian leather design material. Of course, we all know Italian leathers are way better than any leather material in the industry because the best tanneries are in Italy, with lots of years in traditional tanning experience we could not have expected something less.

The grey variant of the Coat Amour shoe seems to be constructed in a two-tone fashion that looks really classy. The upper is made of grey suede while the toe region seems to be of polished grey leather.  This is a very stylish shoe to own and I won’t be surprised if it runs out of stock soon. The other color variant available is in Cognac and for a less than $200.00 you will be a proud owner of a really stylish shoe.

Kenneth Cole New York Boots

Kenneth Cole New York Boots

Kenneth Cole New York Men’s Lug-Xury Boot

Lug-xury bootThe Kenneth Cole New York Lug boot gets its name from the Lug sole used in construction. The comfort of the shoes has been enhanced by the new silver technology. The popular color variant are black, camel, Navy and dark grey in 12 different US sizes. There is half a size for every step so finding a true fit shouldn’t be too difficult.

As advised by a verified customer purchase, it’s better to wear long socks with these shoes to avoid the irritated feeling of the cuff scraping your leg.

Kenneth Cole New York Men’s Click Ur Heels Le Chukka Boot

Click your heels le Chuuka BootThe heels Chukka boot features a shaft that measures approximately 6.25 inch in height from the arch, a rubber sole and genuine leather material construction. The leather welt construction with contrasting welt stitching adds some depth to the boots making them look stylish.

This is a winter really boot and will comfortably keep your legs warm in very cold conditions.

Kenneth Cole New York Men’s Click Sound Combat Boot

Click sound combat bootOf the three boots discussed here, only this one comes with an inside zipper entry. Not a big deal tho, but there are shoppers who like their boots that way, maybe because of the ease of putting it on and taking it off.

Having said that, it’s a great boot to own, ruggedly built to resist slipping and improve grip on a wide range of surfaces. You will find this boot in Cognac and Grey color only and be ready to set yourself back at least $175.00.

  Kenneth Cole New York Sneakers

Kenneth Cole New York Men’s Kam Sneaker

men's kam sneakerNice low top sneaker in a traditional moc toe fashion presently in five variants; white leather, black leather, camel suede, steel suede, wine and midnight navy colors. The upper half is designed like a dress shoe while the soles are fashioned like a tennis shoe making it perfect for semi-formal attires.

Kenneth Cole New York Men’s Brand Wagon 2 Fashion Sneaker

band wagon 2 fashion sneakerThe Brand Wagon 2 sneakers: the mixed materials used for this low top sneaker adds a layer of sophistication to the design appearance, and makes them suitable for both formal and casual outfits. The leather material is soft and flexible while maintaining its lightweight.

The grey and black colors are particularly nice and can work well with both shorts and pants.

Kenneth Cole New York Men’s Prem-Ier Fashion Sneaker

Kenneth Cole Prem-ler fashion sneakerThis low top sneaker has a two tone fashion design, 75% leather, and 25% suede. The sole is made of rubber and it also features a padded collar, exposed eyelets, and a colored welted leather design.

You will like the bended colors of the sole, lace and the suede. A stunning design for a bargain price of just under $115.00.

FAQ about Kenneth Cole Shoes

How good are Kenneth Cole Shoes?

I must confess the cheaper reaction lines look more generic and one might be tempted to conclude that Kenneth Cole shoes have gone down the drain. Most stores mainly stock the reaction lines and this can have customers wondering, where the gorgeous velvet and soft leather detail that made Kenneth Cole went.

Look for outlets that offer the much quality Kenneth Cole New York shoes. Good shoes are still available from the brand, that’s not to say the reaction shoes are no good; they, in my opinion, are just a low-cost market penetrating lines.

Another thing to note is that the low-cost reaction lines are more prone to counterfeits.

What is the average price of a Kenneth Cole shoe?

It is more appropriate to talk about a price range rather than an average price figure. The Cole reaction line cost between $35-$100 and represent a reasonable drop in quality while the higher end New York Shoes cost between $75- $700 and are of higher quality.

What is the quality of Kenneth Cole shoes?

If you want to experience the true “Kenneth Cole” look to purchase the higher lines of this brand. If you are on a budget then you will find the lower lines appealing. However, the brand will need to step up their game if they are to restore customer confidence, there is a general perception that the quality of their products are going down the drain.

Material quality has to improve, especially the corrected grain leather used by some of the shoes.

Lastly, rather than gluing the soles to the upper, they should be stitched and welted, quality shoe soles are welted and can be replaced many times over when they wear out.

Where can I find a coupon code for Kenneth Cole?

Savvy shoppers are always on the lookout for coupon codes to use. Coupon codes range from 15% to 20% on selected orders and seasonal deals. There is also free shipping on the orders above or equal to $200. Here are the best places to get coupon codes for Kenneth code, retailmennot and coupons, let us know if any works for you

Where are Kenneth Cole shoes made?

In truth, the Kenneth Cole Production (KCP) has few to no manufacturing facility. They rather outsource the production of the shoes and products via independently owned manufacturing companies in Brazil, Spain, Italy, and China.

They claim to have long standing relationships with these independent companies and can boast of timely product levels at any given time in the market. In an effort to boost and monitor production quality, cost and quantity, KCP open offices in these regions and tries to work hand in hand with the management of these companies to determine levels of production, market strategy and break even prices.

So what we see as Kenneth Cole products are actually from independent manufacturers from all over the world leveraging the brand name of Kenneth Cole.

Shop Kenneth Cole | Oxfords | Slip-ons | Sneakers | Boots | Sandals

Kenneth Cole vs Aldo men’s Shoes

In comparing Kenneth Cole Shoes with Aldo mens shoes we try to judge from 4 different criteria i.e. comfort quality, price, and construction.

Comfort:  It’s quite hard to judge the level of comfort these two brands offer. For most customers, they prefer the comfort from Kenneth Cole over that of Aldo. Personally, I find the sneakers from Aldo to be more comfortable than those from Kenneth Cole.

Quality: Quality is still a parameter that will be hard to tell between Kenneth Cole shoes vs Aldo men’s shoes. Aldo might be more consistent in quality but that doesn’t mean all their products are of higher quality.

The reason why Aldo is more consistent in quality is not far-fetched. They are still a brand in which the design and construction are still closely monitored by the owner Aldo Bensadoun. However, that is all there is to it, the Kenneth Cole New York lines are of reasonably higher quality than Aldo shoes.

Price: Aldo shoes are higher in price than Kenneth Cole reaction shoes but lower than Kenneth Cole New York shoes.

Construction: One major flaw with these low-end brand shoes is the way the soles are constructed to the upper. A quality shoe should have the sole welted to the upper rather than mere gluing them. If you find a pair from these brands that are welted, then it should be of higher quality.

Shop Kenneth Cole Shoes| Aldo Men’s Shoes | Learn more about Aldo Shoes

Kenneth Cole vs Cole Haan Shoes

Comfort: In my humble opinion Cole Haan newer models beats Kenneth Cole when it comes to comfort, generally.

Why do I think so?

Because of the Cole Haan ZeroGrand technology that has made the newer models super light and super comfortable. If you haven’t read our article on Cole Haan shoe review please do so. If you have bought any of the ZeroGrand shoes please share your experience in the comment section.

Cole Haan should be your go to brand if you walk or stand for long hours.

Quality: Cole Haan is fairly consistent with the quality of their shoes. You should expect somewhat of a moderate quality from Cole Haan that uses welt construction and finer leather, contrast than with Kenneth Cole reaction shoes that glue the sole to the uppers. However, we should expect better quality from the higher lines of Kenneth Cole.

Price: Price comparison of individual shoes isn’t available now. Cole Haan shoes are more expensive than Kenneth Cole reaction shoes and are closer in price to Kenneth Cole New York shoes.

Construction: Am still not sure with the construction consistency of Kenneth Cole shoes but lower brands glue the sole to the upper and are made with alternative grain leather(poor), New York shoes should present an improvement in quality. Cole Haan, on the other hand, uses various patented technologies to craft their highly comfortable shoes i.e ZeroGrand, Grandpro, Lunagrand

Kenneth Cole New York Shoes | Cole Haan Shoes | Learn More about ZeroGrand

Kenneth Cole vs Johnston Murphy Shoes

Quality and Comfort: There are people who will argue that the comfort and Quality of a shoe have nothing to do with its price and construction. I beg to differ. While price is just a little part of the equation, when it comes to shoes, there is a direct relationship between price, quality, and comfort. Having said that, we expect, theoretically, that J&M shoes will be more comfortable and of better quality than the lower lines of Kenneth Cole shoes.

Price: The average price range on a Johnston and Murphy shoe is $250 – $400 and I think they are worth every penny. They are not overly priced like Allen Edmonds or Alden and are not knock off priced shoes like the Kenneth Cole reaction lines. If you have $400 bucks to spill out on a shoe, Johnston and Murphy’s shoes are a good investment.

Construction: J&M utilizes a Goodwear construction that ensures the shoes are breathable and well cushioned, I don’t know if I can say same for Kenneth Cole Reaction Shoes.

Shop Kenneth Cole | J & M Shoes | Allen Edmonds Shoes

Florsheim Shoes Vs Kenneth Cole Shoes

Comfort and Quality: Generally speaking, in terms of quality and comfort we have tie. In my humble opinion, fuelled by my personal research and reading lots of customer reviews, I think there is not much difference between these two brands.

Price:  Florsheim shoes are priced moderately. Don’t expect much from this brand at moderate prices, you will get exactly what you pay for. Averagely Florsheim shoes and Kenneth Cole reaction shoes are well within the similar price range.

Construction: Florsheim uses a variety of construction types to craft their footwear. The construction types range from moccasin construction to welt and strobe construction. The construction utilized depends on the grade and style to be adopted.

Shop Kenneth Cole Shoes | Florsheim Shoes | Learn more about Florsheim

Kenneth Cole Shoes Vs Bass Shoes

Comfort and Quality: Comparing Kenneth Cole Vs Bass Shoes, Bass shoes seems to slightly offer more comfort and quality than the lower lines of Kenneth Cole. There also seems to be a bit more refinement in the leather used and more style options.

Price: Prices of Bass shoes are well within similar range of Kenneth Cole reaction shoes but significantly lower than Kenneth Cole New York Shoes.

Construction: Am yet to see a Bass shoe that Glues the sole to the upper. If you find one or you have one, please share your experience in the comment section. They mainly utilized Welt construction technique.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Shoes | G h Bass Shoes | Learn about bass Shoes




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here