Keds Updates Its 1920s ‘Hand-book for Girls’ Series to Tell Empowering Stories of Women Today

The past often informs what is done in the present, and for its latest empowerment effort, Keds looked to a handbook series it released in the 1920s.

With International Women’s Day around the corner (March 8), the brand released its inaugural “The Keds Hand-book for Women” today, a platform for women to tell their own stories unfiltered and unapologetically. The company said its near century old “The Keds Hand-book for Girls” series served as its inspiration.

Although the inspiration was present, the goals are quite different. Where the past effort was a means to offer advice and celebrate independence, the modern “The Keds Hand-book for Women” was created to encourage women to be their true selves in hopes to “pave a path for more acceptance, compassion and understanding for all.”

“We spent the last year talking to our consumer, trying to dive into what drives the emotional connections in her life. She made it clear that you can’t put her in one place, you can’t define her, so whatever we’re bringing has to be inclusive and diverse. That’s the feedback she gave us,” Keds president Gillian Meek told FN. “We’re using this handbook as a way to tell the stories of all the female consumers that love our brand. It’s a great opportunity to allow anyone to tell their story.”

She continued, “This is a great way to connect with consumers, to reach them where they are — whether that’s digitally or if they happen upon the physical version of the handbook — and let them know that this is a brand that’s stood for them for a long time.”

The first issue, which uses power and how it comes in many forms as its theme, features 28 women including teenage activists and people in executive roles. Among the women highlighted are Meena Harris (founder of the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign), Nina Westbrook (mental health expert and founder of the Oklahoma boutique The Little Ark) and Aija Mayrock (author of “The Survival Guide to Bullying”).

Keds The Keds Hand-book for Women Nina Westbrook
Mental health expert and The Little Ark founder Nina Westbrook, shot for Keds.

Meek, a Canada native, told FN that she is also featured in the first effort. She said she shared her story of becoming an American citizen five years ago and the powerful experience of being able to exercise her right to vote for the first time.

Keds enlisted more than 70 women from a variety of roles to put the issue together including photographers, makeup artists, illustrators, stylists, videographers and others. (The brand noted the new fonts used were also designed by women.)

The handbook, according to Meek, will not only live digitally but Keds will also produce a paper version. The print iteration will feature 18 of the stories from the digital effort and will be sent out to consumers in its e-com database, to its retail partners and distributed at events on International Women’s Day (including panels in conjunction with  Albright in Los Angeles and London).

The exec also said this is not a one-and-done effort. Instead, Keds will create themes and content that change with each season.

Keds Hand-book for Girls Cover 1920s
One of the “Hand-book for Girls” covers from the 1920s.

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