Kenneth Cole Reaction Kids: A guaranteed reaction, every time!

When I used to think of Kenneth Cole Reaction, images of womens accessories were conjured up in my mind … sunglasses, handbags and — of course — dress shoes. Recently, however, that mental association was forever changed when we received several samples of Kenneth Cole Reaction Kids’ shoes from the company’s new spring/summer 2008 product line. Now when I think of Kenneth Cole Reaction I think not of how hip I would be in a new pair of Kenneth Cole shoes … I think of how hip my 4-year-old and 1-year-old look in theirs.

Click ‘continue reading’ for the full Kenneth Cole Reaction review.

We received four styles to test — No Mans Sand, Little Tike Sr., Stay-A-Boat and What a Sky, Jr. — and were really happy with each.

No Mans Sand (shown at left; $40) is a great shoe for the warmer weather ahead; It’s got a rubber sole, textile lining and a leather and textile upper. The toddler version closes with Velcro straps, while the boy version is a traditional lace-up sneaker. The tongue on No Mans Sand can be pulled back really low, and the shoe itself splays open quite wide, which makes the process of putting this shoe on super easy. We tested the olive/cream version, and loved it. No Mans Sand gives you all the athletic capabilities of a tennis shoe, but in a dressed-up version that you can easily pull off if you’re taking your son to eat in any semi-formal setting this summer.

We tested two versions of Little Tike Sr., chocolate (shown at right; $45) and natural suede/navy canvas (shown at intro of review; $45). Both styles were a big hit in our house, if for no other reason our 4-year-old recently discovered the virtues of bumper bowling and to him these shoes scream ‘strike!’ Of course I can see the distinctions between Little Tike Sr. and your average public rental bowling shoe, but even I admit — the resemblance is there. Fortunately for Kenneth Cole Reaction, among the toddler set where we live bowling is all the rage!

Little Tike Sr. is a lace-up leather sneaker with a man-made, rugged sole. We found the ‘chocolate’ version to be quite versatile, looking as good with a pair of jeans as it did with cords or khakis. The natural suede/navy canvas version is ideal for a summer sneaker. The leather is supple and seems quite comfortable on Owen’s foot, helped along by an interior fabric lining, padded collar and footbed. All in all we found Little Tike Sr. to be a great sneaker, durable enough to handle whatever your outdoorsy boy can throw at it, but stylized enough to never look utilitarian in the process. And the variety of color combinations available make Little Tike Sr. a good choice no matter what season you’re buying for.

Stay-A-Boat (shown at left; $45) is quite possibly the sweetest boat shoe our Sam will ever wear in his lifetime — and he’s just 16-months-old. I don’t know how it can be topped … I love this shoe! We tested Stay-A-Boat in the light brown/natural canvas version, and its beautiful; The nubuck leather is a rich camel shade and the shoe is held together by contrast stitching. A classic! I wasn’t sure how Sam would do in a boat shoe but he motors around in them without any problem; He’s no doubt helped along by the pliant nubuck and the cushioned insole is much more flexible than I suspected it would be. Stay-A-Boat features a wide Velcro closure for easy on/off, which I love. Another great option for more formal occasions this summer.

What a Sky Jr. (shown at right; $40) is a hip urban sneaker for your hipster-in-training. The cushioned footbed and mesh lining keep little feet feeling supported and dry, while a durable rubber outsole keeps your toddler from skidding on smooth surfaces. We tested the navy/white version of What a Sky, and the smooth leather and suede upper is definitely a sleek and sophisticated alternative to your garden variety sneaker. Our only disappointment would be how easily the white does show dirt — but, really, aren’t a toddler’s sneakers supposed to be a little dirty?

At a time when many children’s shoe manufacturers seem to be catering to little girls, producing twice as many styles each season for girls than they do for boys, I’m so happy we discovered Kenneth Cole Reaction for our sons. They offer us a wide variety of shoes to choose from — from dress shoes to sneakers to even boat shoes — at a price we can live with. If you’re looking for stylish shoes for your little guy this spring and summer that can transition effortlessly from the playground to a party, Kenneth Cole Reaction makes a great choice.

To purchase these shoes, or any of Kenneth Cole Reaction’s new spring/summer 2008 styles, click here.

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