Keen Inc. is a shoe company headquartered in Portland, Oregon. The company was built and grew on making sandals that also protect the toes. This is accomplished by a thick black bumper covering the toes while the rest of the shoe is of typical sandal fashion. The market for this type of shoe originated with sailors and people looking to do outdoor and water activities but not wanting to wear sneakers.

Keen shoes were first developed in 2003 by Martin Keen and Rory Fuerst. The creators were inspired to create a sandal that would also protect the toes. The answer was the Newport, which was the first shoe of Keen Inc. The sandal featured the thick black bumper covering the toes along with a sturdy rubber bottom and a sandal that wrapped around the heel. Through the use of strings, it was able to be tightened on the front of the shoe. The purpose of this sandal was to give people an option for the outdoors that wasn’t a sneaker but as sturdy as a sneaker. By making the sandal, Keen allowed people to wear actual shoes in the summer without their feet becoming too hot from socks and sneakers.

From the Newport, Keen created a company built on hybrid innovation, redefining the outdoors and giving back to the community. Since the Newport debuted in 2003, Keen has continually expanded its line of footwear. Along with sandals, Keen also makes casual shoes. Recently, a line of cold-weather footwear was introduced. Along with shoes, Keen also makes bags and socks. The company provides products for youths, toddlers and infants as well as different collections for men and women.

In 2003, Keen was named “Launch of the Year” by the shoe industry’s leading trade publication, Footwear News. The company has grown quickly since its inception, with its shoes available at more than 1,000 retail locations in the United States. Besides the U.S., Keen distributes worldwide, with customers and sales in Europe, North America, Central America, Australia and New Zealand.

In 2011 Keen started bringing shoe manufacturing back home with the opening of a manufacturing plant in Portland Oregon. Starting with the initial line of its work shoes, eventually Keen plans to produce lifestyle footwear and sandals in the Portland location. By the time the factory is fully operational, it will be capable of producing one million pairs of shoes a year.


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