A Keen Designer Shares the Best Way to Unite Urban Style & Outdoor Living

Keen illustration
Janne Ivonen

Keen keeps moving forward.

Since the early 2000s, the outdoor company has shaken things up across the technical footwear world, and the growth will carry on in 2017. While simultaneously maintaining its foundation of global responsibility, Keen continues to push the limits with an assortment of new, refreshed styles.

FN asked Michael Minter, VP of creative, what’s next.

Why do you think Keen is standing out in the market right now?
“We’ve always maintained an innately colorful spirit in the midst of an industry that can often feel quite ‘brown,’ both literally and figuratively. We aspire to find a balance between satisfying the desires of our core fans and being disruptive. Creative work is only as good as the strategy it’s servicing. The fact that we launched our Uneek campaign [focused on self-expression and innovation] and our Live Monumental campaign [focused on brand values] simultaneously reflects this intended balance.”

New styles showcase a marriage between technical needs of city life, outdoor life and style. Will Keen continue to push this going forward?
“Absolutely. It’s no secret there is a massive shift toward city living globally and that society’s relationship with the outdoors is changing. As a brand founded on the notion of hybrid footwear and a belief that the outdoors should be defined as ‘any place without a ceiling,’ this movement is very natural for Keen.”

What are fall’s most innovative styles?
“We are expanding the Terradora Collection to fully accommodate the TrailFit movement. Women aren’t just trailblazing urban hiking and fitness beyond the treadmill; they’re expecting to do it year-round and in any condition. We responded to this insight with the creation of our Terradora Pulse and Terradora Wintershell styles.”

Keen Terradora

Keen’s Terradora Mid women’s boot, $140; REI.com

What are some cultural movements in the outdoor landscape that influence you?
“First would be a noticeable new appreciation for frequent short adventures outside. With population growth in cities and the emergence of a new urban creative class, getting outside is no longer a two-week backpacking trip. It’s simply Tuesday after work.

“Second, we’re seeing a commitment to protect public land and the outdoor places we play in. Social media certainly has some downsides, but its ability to inspire people with the natural wonders of this planet isn’t one of them.”

 

Where do you see Keen growing?
“I’ve never seen a brand quite like Keen, with permission to grow in such a wide spectrum of consumer channels — from kids’ water sandals to men’s steel-toe workboots to women’s lifestyle fashion. Our focus, however, will continue to be reaching new fans, particularly women, whose life outside is as much about their ‘sidewalk wilderness’ as it is about a mountain hike. This focus doubles as a means to reach young moms who care about the health of their children’s feet and desire to protect their little adventurers.”

Keen-kids-boot

Keen’s Elsa girls’ snow boot, $85; Nordstrom.com

 

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