PORTLAND, Ore., March 26, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — KEEN Inc., the thoughtful and purposeful shoemakers, is celebrating 10 years of their beloved UNEEK, the original open-air sneaker. In Spring/Summer 2024, KEEN is hosting a series of global experiences in collaboration with Mita Sneakers, Only NY, and End in Tokyo, New York, and London. In partnership with these collaborators, the UNEEK collection will be brought to life in key cities worldwide, ensuring a truly global launch at renowned retailers.

To round out the celebration, KEEN is thrilled to introduce three new variations of the popular UNEEK open-air sneaker, available in both men’s and women’s styles. The UNEEK II Convertible [$135] features an adjustable heel strap that can be pulled forward and secured around the bungee to wear as a slide. The huarache-inspired slip-on version, UNEEK II Harvest [$135], showcases KEEN’s commitment to using natural and recycled materials. Additionally, UNEEK O3 [$125], a lightweight sneaker-inspired version with a lightly cushioned heel back, a comfortable option for the season.

It all began when KEEN’s Director of Innovation, Rory Fuerst Jr., set out to solve a problem. Traditional shoe construction relies on flat, 2D pieces of material and faces a challenge: It is not feasible to create a single construction that fits all. These pieces are cut like puzzle pieces, sewn together, and shaped to form the uppers. However, attaining an ideal fit for a three-dimensional object such as a foot demands not only meticulous processes and materials but also flawless construction.

KEEN decided to challenge the norms of footwear manufacturing by examining the foot itself. They focused on how uppers were constructed, how they interacted with the foot, and how the upper materials were attached to the sole. The breakthrough came in the form of cords. By utilizing cords, KEEN was able to create a more form-fitting upper. Taking it a crucial step further, they introduced a second cord and a junction point where the two cords intersected, making the upper work harmoniously with the foot.

Perfecting the prototype was no easy feat. No factory wanted to make it. It was so different from anything the industry was used to. As a result, Rory Jr. relentlessly pursued how to bring this to scale with countless trips to the factory to make it happen. And KEEN didn’t stop there: for 10 years, they have perfected the UNEEK and now house all production in KEEN family-owned factories – increasing efficiency: What originally took 57 minutes to make now takes just 15 minutes per pair.

“The UNEEK open-air sneaker is a product of years of research and development. I started with two problems to solve: defy industry standards for how a shoe is made, and deliver an unencumbered fit. An amazing team around the world and I dedicated 3+ years of our lives to the development of this project, challenging the idea of what a shoe is and how it should fit. We used cords instead of sheets of material and worked with factories to create brand new ways of making shoes. It was a long journey, but the result is a shoe that truly feels like an extension of your foot.” – KEEN Director of Innovation, Rory Fuerst Jr. 

Today, customers get to experience the latest and most advanced features, which include:

  • Adaptable and Original Fit: Free-moving, innovative two-cord upper with infinite points of adjustability so it conforms to the shape of your foot. Our Original Fit has generous space across the forefront for toes to spread out.
  • Consciously Created Materials: Made of recycled P.E.T plastic cords and lace-lock system, plus pesticide-free and natural odor control to reduce our use of virgin materials and impact on the planet.
  • Goes Everywhere Traction: Flexible rubber outsole crosses terrain, even water. Razor siping in the tread to channel water away for increased grip in wet conditions on UNEEK Original, UNEEK II Harvest, and UNEEK II Convertible.
  • Breathable Comfort: Open-air breathability on top, athletic cushioning with arch
    support underfoot. The sneaker comfort feet love all day, every day.

The newest UNEEK styles are available for purchase at www.keenfootwear.com and at select sporting goods retailers on March, 26 2024.

About KEEN
KEEN is a shoemaker with purpose. Family-owned and values-led for over 20 years, KEEN has been consciously making unapologetically comfortable, innovative footwear that lasts and using its business to do good.

In 2003, KEEN started a revolution with the introduction of the original hybrid sandal, the Newport. As revolutionary, thoughtful shoemakers, KEEN is on a mission to make the world’s cleanest shoes. They’ve been PFAS free since 2018 and envision a shoe industry that has a net positive impact on lives. To get there, they’re sharing their sustainable innovations to do more good together. Learn more at keenfootwear.com.

Media Contact
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Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/keen-uneek-original-open-air-sneaker-celebrates-10-years-302098946.html
Some images courtesy of https://pixabay.com

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