- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just in time for fall fashion shopping, designer Kenneth Cole is again using his craft to bring attention to poverty and AIDS prevention, showing that giving back never goes out of style.

The luxury retailer Bloomingdale’s is partnering for the seventh year with the renowned AIDS research organization AMFAR - with an assist from Mr. Cole - for special events beginning Thursday. Billed as the Fashionable Fundraiser in Black and White, the events will raise funds and awareness for AIDS organizations in communities nationwide.

Bloomingdale‘s, which is making a donation of $75,000 to AMFAR, is teaming with Mr. Cole on a T-shirt to commemorate the event. The $35 black T-shirt has a red-and-white message that reads, “Make the Most of Wearing Times.” Seventy-five percent of the proceeds from sales of the shirt will go to AMFAR.

” ‘Make the Most of Wearing Times’ is a twist to encourage people to act responsibly in all ‘conceivable’ situations,” Mr. Cole explains in an e-mail to The Washington Times, adding that condoms will be available in his stores to advance his message of safe sex and AIDS prevention.

This isn’t the first time Mr. Cole has used his designs to bring attention to AIDS prevention. In 2005, his T-shirt bearing the arresting line “We all have AIDS” was worn by celebrities and fashionistas.

Since last fall, Mr. Cole’s nonprofit “Awearness” Fund has been supporting social change and inspiring volunteerism by holding events, such as the ones at Bloomingdale‘s, and by designing special merchandise.

“In our effort to promote, encourage and empower acts of service, volunteerism and social change, we aim to identify like-minded individuals and organizations whose stories we can help tell through our various platforms,” says Mr. Cole, 55, who is married to former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s daughter, Maria, a philanthropist in her own right.

Bloomingdale’s has a long-standing history of supporting AIDS research, and we are proud to continue to aid the fight,” says Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale‘s. “What better partner could we ask for than AMFAR, an organization that has helped to advance AIDS research in leaps and bounds since its inception, and gotten this world ever closer to a cure.”

Staying true to its promise, Bloomingdale’s is displaying its “Good Deeds” wall through the holiday season, highlighting products available in its stores - including Mr. Cole’s “Make the Most of Wearing Times” T-shirt - that help various causes.

In addition to designing the Bloomingdale’s T-shirt, Mr. Cole has partnered with FEED Projects, an organization co-founded in 2006 by President George W. Bush’s niece Lauren Bush to feed children in impoverished countries. A FEED backpack and T-shirt will be sold in Kenneth Cole stores and at www. kennethcole.com starting Wed nesday. For every $125 backpack sold, an identical one, complete with medical supplies, will be donated to a community health worker in sub-Saharan Africa, where hunger, AIDS and other health concerns are rampant.

“I started working with Kenneth after reading his ‘Awearness Book,’ ” a collection of essays written by people making a positive difference in the world, Miss Bush said in a phone interview. “He’s so involved and so socially conscious. It seemed like a perfect fit, and it has been,” the 25-year-old fashion model and Princeton graduate added.

She said she tries to visit Africa two to three times a year and that her grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, a huge influence on her activism, has been “very supportive.”

The proceeds from the companion $35 organic cotton T-shirt will go to Mr. Cole’s Awearness Fund and Miss Bush’s FEED Projects.

For more information, visit www.bloomingdales.com and www.kennethcole.com.

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