Weekly Feature: KEEN
The world of footwear is a competitive business and few businesses can stay grounded amid changes to customer demands and desires. One company, however, has taken some different approaches to offering service and footwear that they believe exceeds most expectations.
In 2003, KEEN presented an unusual option during a winter industry trade show. Showcasing a summer sandal featuring interesting cosmetic looks and hybrid performance, the KEEN Newport sandal was launched. As it happened, KEEN also made a decision as a company,
…We made a promise to ourselves. If the little shoe with the big toe bumper ever caught on things would be done differently – we had the chance to act on that inspiration quickly. (KEEN Footwear, 2015)
When the tsunami hit Southeast Asia in 2004, KEEN diverted 100% of their advertising budget to disaster relief. This caused the company to shift from a “smart business” mindset to one of “business with conscience.” In doing so, it set the groundwork for Hybrid.Care, KEEN’s giving program and the promise behind the shoe. Since developing Hybrid.Care, KEEN has partnered with many non-profit organizations world-wide in an effort to build stronger communities and a healthier planet. They have a number of partners across Canada, the US, Europe, and Japan that actively work with KEEN to inspire responsible outdoor participation through land and water conservation (KEEN Footwear, 2015). This is known, today, as the KEEN Effect.
In 2013, KEEN put their fans at the centre of the KEEN Hybrid.Care program in an effort to invigorate the commitment the company had made early on. By taking this initiative, KEEN has been able to give more than $7 million in funds and resources globally to non-profit organizations who are dedicated to preserving and inspiring responsible outdoor participation (KEEN Footwear, 2015).
But KEEN is much more than a globally-conscious organization. Orginally started in Alameda, California, KEEN relocated in 2006 and are now based out of Portland, Oregon. In doing so, they were able to open up their product line and begin offering socks and bags in stores – aside from their traditional production of men’s, women’s, and children’s active footwear.
Following their move to Oregon’s largest city, KEEN renovated a historic building in downtown Portland in 2012. During the process, they managed to send less than one dumpster of waste to the landfill, by re-using and re-purposing nearly all the materials from the original building. Today, Portland is KEEN’s permanent home.
Always looking for new ways to improve on their footwear, KEEN unveiled an interesting option that hit the markets in 2014. “Created from two cords and a sole, UNEEK offers an entirely new approach to footwear construction” (Meet UNEEK, 2015). UNEEK is open-air footwear designed with the intention of complementing the natural shape of the wearer’s foot.
Striving to create the next product for their shoe lovers and fans, KEEN developed their Hybrid.ology, which “ensures superior fit, extra durability, unending comfort, and exceptional performance” (Hybrid Innovation, 2015). The following innovations were designed to eliminate the effects of anything that could come between the wearer and his or her footwear.
- KEEN.DRY: A waterproof membrane system that breathes, allowing vapour out without letting water in
- KEEN.WARM: Charcoal bamboo creates a lightweight, anti-microbial insulation that provides warmth where it’s most needed
- KEEN.CUSH: A blend of recycled PU, cork, and memory foam that contours to the wearers foot and adjusts to provide cushioning throughout the day
- KEEN.GRIP: Oil and slip resistant outsoles helps “hold your ground”
- KEEN.DCR: Dual Climate Rubber outsole hardens in cold weather to allow for superior traction in any temperature
- KEEN.PROTECT: For ultimate toe protection, the outsole wraps up and over the toe using KEEN’s Patented Toe Protection
- KEEN.KEY-TECH: A “full-length TPU stability plate provides forefoot flexibility and underfoot stability”
KEEN also offers, thermal heat shield footbeds, CNX lightweight protection, heat trapolator, a metatomical footbed design, and left and right asymmetrical safety toes on many of their other footwear. Check out their Hybrid.ology for the full list of their innovations and the meaning behind the terms (Hybrid Innovation, 2015).
Want to try on a pair for yourself? Come in today and check out our selection. From sandals, to hiking shoes, to work boots, we’ve got you covered!