From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
IndustrySportswear and Sports Goods
Founded1916; 106 years ago (1916)
Waltham, Massachusetts
United States
Areas served
Key people
Brendan Hoffman, CEO of Wolverine World Wide
Parent Edit this at Wikidata

Keds is an American brand of canvas shoes with rubber soles. Founded in 1916,[1] the company is owned by Wolverine World Wide.[2] The original shoe design, the Champion, was the first mass-marketed canvas-top "sneaker".[3]


Early history[edit]

Keds Champion sneaker, for women, 1916

In 1916, U.S. Rubber consolidated 30 different shoe brand names to create one company. Initially, the brand name "Peds" was chosen for the company from the Latin word for feet, but the name was already trademarked. Keds was founded in 1916 and was acquired by Stride Rite Corporation in 1979.[4][5] Because the shoes had a soft rubber sole, they became known as sneakers as the rubber soles allowed "sneaking around silently".[6] By the early 1920s, the shoes were worn by Olympic soccer players, national and international tennis champions, and college athletes.[7] In 1926, the Keds Triumph shoe was introduced.[8] Keds released "Kedettes", a line of washable high-heeled shoes for women, in 1938.[9][10][11]


A pair of Pro-Keds Royal Flash court shoes

In 1949, Pro-Keds were introduced as a line of sneakers designed for athletic performance.[12] Designed specifically for basketball players, the original style, the Royal Tread,[13] was endorsed by George Mikan. In 1953, the Minneapolis Lakers were outfitted with Pro-Keds.[14] Pro-Keds were intended to compete with the industry standard, Converse.[14][15][16] In 1969, Pro-Keds introduced the "Pro-Keds Super", also known as the 69er. In the early 1970s, Pro-Keds introduced the Royal Master, also known as the Royal Plus. The shoe had a suede upper and a padded collar, and was available as both a high or low top.[17] Pro-Keds were worn by NBA stars including Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nate "Tiny" Archibald, JoJo White, Bob Love, Lou Hudson, Bob Lanier and "Pistol" Pete Maravich,[13] as well as musicians The Ramones.[18] The shoe earned cult status in the hip-hop community by the late 1970s.[13]

In the spring of 1980, Pro-Keds launched a collection of performance cupsole basketball shoes with the marquee model being the Shotmaker. The Shotmaker would be worn by Ralph Sampson and Gerald Henderson. In 1981 Sugar Ray Leonard became the newest face and spokesperson for the brand.[17]

Stride Rite and Wolverine World Wide ownership[edit]

Stride Rite Corporation purchased Keds and Sperry Top-Sider from Uniroyal in 1979 for $18 million.[15][19]

Keds has produced collaborative collections with companies including Kate Spade New York, Madewell, Opening Ceremony, Steven Alan and Alice + Olivia. In 2009, Keds launched a collaboration with Loomstate which was sold at Barneys. The shoes were made with organic cotton, recycled rubber and non-toxic inks and dyes.[20]

Collective Brands Inc., the parent company of Stride Rite Corporation and Keds, was acquired by Wolverine World Wide for $1.32 billion in May 2012.[2]

Keds launched the "Ladies First Since 1916" campaign in July 2015, which focuses on female empowerment and featured celebrities including Taylor Swift.[21] In 2016 Keds celebrated its centennial and the continuation of its "Ladies First Since 1916" campaign[22] with a birthday celebration held during New York Fashion Week.[23] The company also announced that its shoe manufacturing was moving to Michigan, in the U.S. for the first time in 35 years.[22]

Popular culture[edit]

The shoes have been worn by celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Betty White, Humphrey Bogart, Ariana Grande, Fred Rogers, and Taylor Swift.[6][10]

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Keds were very popular and fashionable with girls from elementary school age through college age and adults, especially after the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing was released, in which Jennifer Grey wore Keds.[24] Many cheerleaders also wore Keds as part of their uniform during the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.[25]

In the 1990s, Demi Moore voiced a television campaign for Keds.[26] Mischa Barton, who starred in The O.C., became the face of Keds in an ad campaign in the late 2000s.[27]

In the Stephen King novella Apt Pupil, guidance counselor Ed French owns several pairs of Keds, which he (incorrectly) believes will endear him to the student body. They nickname him "Sneaker Pete" and "The Ked Man."[citation needed]

In the film The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Ben Chaplin asks Janeane Garofalo to give him a personal item of hers. She tosses a shoe down to him and he picks it up and comments, "'s a Ked!"[citation needed]

Keds are mentioned in the Wheatus song "Teenage Dirtbag." The subject of the song is described as wearing "Keds and tube socks."[citation needed]

In the USSR and many post-Soviet countries, sneakers with canvas tops became known generically as "keds" (Russian: кеды).


  1. ^ "99 Years of Keds". ATHM. April 9, 2015. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  2. ^ a b John Kell (May 1, 2012). "Owner of Stride Rite, Payless to Be Split Up". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  3. ^ Robert J. Baptista (May 19, 2009). "Naugatuck Chemical Company". Colorants History. Archived from the original on May 13, 2010. Retrieved April 25, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ "Keds Sneakers". Retrieved 24 February 2010.
  5. ^ Evan Morris (November 9, 2004). From Altoids to Zima:The Surprising Stories Behind 125 Famous Brand Names. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743257978.
  6. ^ a b Roseary Feitelberg (November 23, 2011). "Keds Kicks Off Apparel at Opening Ceremony". WWD. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  7. ^ Stephanie Pedersen (August 15, 2005). Shoes: What Every Woman Should Know. David & Charles.
  8. ^ "Mark McNairy x Keds Triumph Canvas". FNG Magazine. July 9, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  9. ^ "Kedettes". The Hutchinson News. April 19, 1938.
  10. ^ a b "Marketing Keds to a New Generation of Feet". University of Pennsylvania. February 24, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  11. ^ Jean Williams (April 24, 2014). A Contemporary History of Women's Sport, Part One. Routledge.
  12. ^ Martin Marks (October 23, 2009). "Flashback: Bobbito Garcia Revamps The Pro-Keds Royal Flash". Paper Magazine. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c Mari Davis (January 13, 2009). "Pro-Keds Shoes: The Original Court King". Fashion Windows. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Nick Santora (October 16, 2012). "The 50 Most Influential Sneaker Sponsorships in Sports History". Complex. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Stephen M. Pribut, Douglas H. Richie. "2002: A Sneaker Odyssey". Dr. Stephem M. Pribut's Sport Pages. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  16. ^ Yuniya Kawaura (January 28, 2016). Sneakers: Fashion, Gender, and Subculture. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  17. ^ a b "Pro-Keds: The Complete Story". Sneaker Freaker. Retrieved 2022-12-07.
  18. ^ Tyler Atwood (April 4, 2014). "How Did Converse Become Popular? A Brief History of The Iconic Sneaker". Bustle. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  19. ^ N. R. Kleinfield (March 23, 1986). "Sailing To The Top". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  20. ^ "Loomstate makes eco-friendly Keds". Los Angeles Times. June 12, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  21. ^ Lara O'Reilly (July 22, 2015). "Keds wants Taylor Swift to transform its canvas shoes into feminist icons". Business Insider. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  22. ^ a b Rhonda Schaffler (February 9, 2016). "Keds' President on How to Keep a 100-Year Old Brand on Its Toes". The Street. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  23. ^ Gina Marinelli (February 12, 2016). "Ciara Sang At A 100th Birthday Party This Week". Refinery 29. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  24. ^ Johns, Nikara (2017-05-24). "How 'Dirty Dancing' Catapulted Keds to Success". Footwear News. Retrieved 2020-07-22.
  25. ^ "History of Cheerleading Shoes". 20 May 2012.
  26. ^ "My Life As A Voice: The Road to Show Biz Through your Golden Pipes". Los Angeles Times. June 18, 1995. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  27. ^ "Mischa Face of Keds". New Idea. December 5, 2006. Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016.

External links[edit]