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Introducing... Keen Footwear: True Oregon Originals

Aug 5, 2020

Always on the lookout for new trends and products, we’ve recently started stocking Keen – an outdoor-oriented footwear brand from Oregon that’s been getting a lot of airtime of late, especially among style-conscious pockets of the outdoor community.

Keen Uneek SNK in Grey/Black

(The Uneek SNK Shoe in Grey/Black)

So we thought we’d take a little time to put the spotlight on Keen and what they’re all about – because that’s important to us here at Urban Industry, and if you’re reading this, it’s probably important to you too.

Keen: a brief brand history

Although Keen is a recent phenomenon among the streetwear community, it’s by no means a rookie brand. In fact, it’s almost 20 years old – founded back in 2003 in California. 

Like many brands that end up gaining recognition on the street, Keen has never actually tried to be cool. The utility of their output is what makes them a cool brand now. Or, to put it another way, the form has followed the function. 

Innovation from the outset

The brand’s first product – the Newport Sandal – was borne out of pure technical invention. 

Founders Martin Keen and Rory Fuerst wanted to produce a sandal that would properly protect the toes, so they set about the task. The result, which looks like the lovechild of a low-profile walking shoe and a classic sandal, became a footwear category in itself, and has since been reinterpreted by plenty of outdoor brands. And they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

Choosing the right setting

Keen’s story began in California, but just three years into business, they upped sticks and moved to Portland, Oregon.

Portland, of course, is a city that’s renowned for independent thought and going against the grain. It’s a mecca for self-starters of all stripes, from clothing brands and beer brewers to musicians and filmmakers. And of course, it’s also a staunchly green city, making it a perfect fit for an eco-conscious, socially responsible footwear brand – more about that later.

Why is Keen a good fit for Urban Industry?

We’ve admired Keen’s output for years here at Urban Industry, and with the recent emergence of the street-friendly Uneek range, we saw now as the perfect opportunity to start stocking them.

The Uneek range

The Uneek range is focused on providing the wearer with performance, all-day comfort and, of course, breathability. With braided cord construction that genuinely is ‘unique’, your foot gets all the air it needs, whether you’re engaging in active outdoor pursuits or just relaxing in the garden.

Uneek Original vs. Uneek SNK

The Uneek Original is firmly in the ‘active sandal’ category, with a technical sole and an open heel strap. 

Keen Uneek in Grey/Drizzle

(The Uneek Original Sandal in Grey/Drizzle)

Its younger sibling, the Uneek SNK (as in ‘sneaker’), is even more sporty-looking and more shoe-like, with a closed heel, a closed toe area and a sole like a running trainer’s – but still maximising breathability with that signature woven design. 

Keen Uneek SNK in Black

(The Uneek SNK Shoe in Black)

We stock both, because they’re both modern classics in their own ways.

They’re perfect for summer, yet they’re practical enough to be useful all year round: a house-slipper during the winter, or carrying out chores such as gardening, shopping or any other scenario where you just want a reliable shoe that’s easy to put on. Pair them with a bold pair of socks and some jeans or fatigues, and you’ve got an effortless slouchy vibe going on – a go-to look for us here at Urban Industry all year round.

Oh, and the cord that makes up the Uneek SNK’s upper and fastening mechanism is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles – something we always love to see. 

Keen Uneek SNK in Olive/Black

(The Uneek SNK Shoe in Olive/Black)

Which leads us nicely into the next point:

Keen’s brand values

As you’ll know if you’re a regular customer or a frequent visitor to our website, a brand’s aesthetic isn’t the only thing we care about. We love to champion brands who are in business for the right reasons, and whose values align with our own: values such as sustainability.

Keen’s website proudly states the company’s five underpinning values:

  • Quality
  • Integrity
  • Health
  • Caring
  • Pioneering

Pretty self-explanatory, but in a nutshell, they’re all about making great products, while always doing the right thing for people and for the planet, as well as promoting healthy living and innovating by constantly looking ahead.

Sounds good to us!

And better still, they really do practise what they preach. Just one recent example of this is the way they’ve made it their mission, over the last few years, to clean up their supply chain – developing eco-friendly alternatives to harmful chemicals and unsustainable materials. An older example of it came in 2004, just 18 months into business: when the Indian Ocean tsunami crisis began, Keen shifted their $1 million advertising budget into helping the relief effort. In 2011, when the tsunami hit Tohoku in Japan, the brand donated more than 13,500 pairs of shoes and sandals, and raised more than $145,000. We could go on, citing more and more, but we’d genuinely be here all day.

Browse our Keen footwear range

So now that you’ve got the gist of what Keen is about and you’ve seen a couple of snaps of the Uneek range, take a closer look at our full Keen footwear selection.


Keen Uneek SNK in Black/Surf

(The Uneek SNK Shoe in Black/Surf)

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