Keen Footwear – Authentic US Heritage From Oregon
Keen footwear was birthed by Martin Keen through an unusual pairing and love for sailing & sandals – in Portland, Oregon. Keen had worked as a shoe designer for big names like Saucony and Timberland, so with this experience he set out to create a hybrid shoe that would be comfortable enough to wear sailing on his boat whilst also remaining functional for the outdoors.
His creation debuted in 2003 at a trade show and were awarded the tittle of ‘Launch of The Year’ by the hosts & leading industry publication of the time, Footwear News. After this praise the shoe became such an undisputed success & Keen began to diversify their product lines. In addition to these idyllic hybrid sandals, they added cold weather footwear after they moved their manufacturing from Alameda, California to Portland, Oregon. These expansion lines grew and became just as popular as the original sandal.
Shortly after the brand’s launch in 2003, a tsunami hit Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004, killing nearly 300,000 people. The company decided to divert their entire budget set aside for advertising instead to disaster relief and also resulted in a new portion of the company, Hybrid.Care being created. The company identifies the decision as a shift from a “smart business” concept to a “business with a conscience.” Founder Martin Keen has been known to criticize big-name shoe brands that prioritize sleek design and marketing over comfort and functionality, and turning their advertising spend into a charitable donation was definitely a reflection of this ethos.
The Hybrid.Care initiative was so popular with Keen’s consumers that, just a year later, their motto became HybridLife – a lifestyle of enjoying and protecting the outdoors. Keen customers are encouraged to live a HybridLife–to enjoy our environment and join in conservation efforts to protect it.
HybridLife also encompasses the company’s efforts to reduce materials consumption and pollution in their manufacturing process and to reduce waste in their products and packaging. Keen prides itself on actively creating change rather than just donating money from the sidelines. Through their charitable partnerships, they’ve improved the environment and lives of people around the world.
Though Keen sales have skyrocketed, and the shoes are sold globally, the company stays true to its humble roots. Their headquarters are still based in Portland, Oregon, and they have a small workforce in comparison to the footwear giants, of just 100 employees. They still boost the Portland economy, though, as they recently opened a new manufacturing plant in the city. They also opened the first Keen Garage in Portland, their legendary outlet store where you can find their fabulous shoes at incredible prices.
From one shoe concept to an international success, Keen is the embodiment of the American dream. While they may not be the stylish shoe walking down the New York runways, outdoor enthusiasts insist upon Keens every time they walk out the door. With their diverse product range, there is definitely a Keen shoe out there for everyone. Keep an eye out on our new arrivals for the latest selection from Keen & outdoor footwear arriving this season.