An inside look at the principles and beginnings of this distinctive footwear maker.

Immediately recognisable by its distinct aesthetic and unique approach to outdoor footwear, KEEN, is a fun company based in the city of Portland, Oregon. Founded originally in California by Martin Keen, a fond sailor, and Martin Fuerst, the current company director and lead product designer in 2003.

Martin Keen first invented what would go on to be the Newport Sandal, KEEN’s most iconic piece of footwear before the company was founded in 1999, it became widely known for its distinct black toe bumper, a signature of KEEN placed on many pieces of their footwear since, including their sandals, trainers and walking boots. After their founding, the popularity of all KEEN footwear boomed, they became very popular, they were comfortable, many people get on with many model’s wider fit in the forefoot and their effective sole units are perfect for all sorts of rough and tough terrain as well as the everyday grind. KEEN makes shoes for outdoor lovers all over the world, very popular with walkers, sailors, paddlers, and more.

The Keen Newport Sandals: Brand New (Left) and 10 years old (right). The design has remained largely unchanged since its invention. It is solid, comfortable and effective. Perfect for everything from hopping rockpools to hiking the coast path.

In 2004, many of us will remember the Asian tsunamis which took place throughout the Indian ocean. Still a new company at this point, KEEN decided that it would pull its $1 million advertising budget and devote all of it to aid and relief as it joined the effort to help those involved. This event played a major part in KEEN’s ethos resulting in KEEN’s Hybrid. Care program. Ever since KEEN has donated over $15 million to non-profit organisations and causes around the world and they’re only just getting started.

– KEEN are constantly rethinking and reworking things in their supply chain, every step forward in the right direction. Making shoes has an impact on the environment and KEEN is dedicated to finding ways to minimise that impact and push beyond industry standards. They take steps like always using environmentally preferred leather and PFC-free durable water repellents in all of their products.

– KEEN keeps many partnerships with Non-profit organisations, many close to our hearts such as Leave No Trace and the conservation alliance which furthers their reach in conservation.

– KEEN like to keep things close to home but after a gradual rise in Europe, they thought it appropriate to release a range of sandals and boots that were made here in order to cut airline emissions, but also as they recognised the high quality of European footwear manufacturing. These American-designed shoes can certainly now keep up with European builds.

The Targhee III has become one of KEEN’s most popular pieces of outdoor footwear, available in both a high and low top version. Perfect lightweight footwear for the hills.

5 Key Principles

If your considering a pair of KEEN shoes and are looking for that reassurance then look no further than their 5 key principles:

1. Quality – Creating quality products, services, and brand experiences in everything they do.

2. Integrity – Building trust through their products, actions, and their relationships.

3. Health – Maintaining that healthy living starts with products that promote a healthy lifestyle.

4. Caring – Striving to reduce the impact on the environment, protecting places where we play, and giving back to communities in need.

5. Pioneering – Looking for innovative and resourceful ways to do things and having fun along the way.