Keds (shoes)

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Industry Sportswear and Sports Goods
Founded 1916; 102 years ago (1916)
Headquarters Lexington, Massachusetts, United States
Areas served
Key people
Gillian Meek, President
Blake Kruger, CEO of Wolverine World Wide
Products Footwear
Parent Wolverine World Wide

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, one of the original 12 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896,[4] 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 later acquired by Stride Rite Corporation.[5][6] Because the shoes had a soft rubber sole, they became known as sneakers as the rubber soles allowed "sneaking around silently".[7][8][9] By the early 1920s, the shoes were worn by Olympic soccer players, national and international tennis champions, and college athletes.[10] In 1926, the Keds Triumph shoe was introduced.[11]


Keds released "Kedettes", a line of washable high-heeled shoes for women, in 1938.[12][13][14] In 1949, Pro-Keds were introduced as a line of sneakers designed for athletic performance.[15] Designed specifically for basketball players, the original style, the Royal Tread,[16] was endorsed by George Mikan. In 1953, the Minneapolis Lakers were outfitted with Pro-Keds.[17] Pro-Keds were intended to compete with the industry standard, Converse.[17][18][19] 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,[16] as well as music icons, The Ramones.[20] The shoe earned cult status in the hip-hop community by the late 1970s.[16]

Stride Rite Corporation purchased Keds and Sperry Top-Sider from Uniroyal in 1979 for $18 million.[18][21]

From the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, Keds were popular with girls from elementary school age through college age and beyond. They were often worn with no socks or slouch socks. They were sometimes worn with slouch socks worn over leggings with an oversized sweater especially a V-neck sweater worn by itself or with a turtleneck worn under the sweater, a sweatshirt or turtleneck under the sweatshirt combo or a long tee shirt. Also, Keds were worn with white slouch socks over black tights and a skirt or knee length or shorter dress or with the slouch socks and a baby doll dress over bike shorts or knee length leggings. Many cheerleaders also wore Keds as part of their uniform.[citation needed]

In the 1990s, Demi Moore voiced a television campaign for Keds.[22] Mischa Barton, who starred in The O.C., became the face of Keds in an ad campaign in the late 2000s.[23]

Modern expansion[edit]

In January 2012, Rick Blackshaw was appointed brand president of Keds.[24] 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]

In 2012, Keds announced a partnership with singer Taylor Swift, including product collaborations.[25] Keds sponsored Swift's The Red Tour in 2013,[26] and the 1989 World Tour in 2015.[27]

From June 2013 to July 2014 the one season 36 episode show Sam and Cat featured Cat played by Ariana Grande. Ariana Grande wore Keds in every episode of the show.

Footwear Plus recognized Keds as the "Best Collab" in 2014 for its Keds x Taylor Swift collection.[28] In September 2014, Wolverine World Wide announced that Rick Blackshaw would be the brand president of Sperry Top-Sider.[29] Chis Linder, former CMO and senior vice president of business development for Sperry Top-Sider, became president of Keds.[30]

Keds launched the "Ladies First Since 1916" campaign in July 2015, which focuses on female empowerment and featured celebrities including Taylor Swift.[31]

Centennial year[edit]

Keds celebrated its centennial in 2016 and the continuation of its "Ladies First Since 1916" campaign[32] with a birthday celebration held during New York Fashion Week.[33] To mark the occasion, Keds launched Keds Collective, a campaign to feature inspirational women following the 2015 Ladies First campaign.[34] Some of the women featured were bloggers such as Chriselle Lim. Allison Williams joined the campaign as creative director and star of the brands video shorts, titled "Woman's Touch" and "Uncharted Territories."[35] The campaign, which included a collaborative shoe design with Ciara, introduced the Keds Custom Studio which allows customers to create their own shoe designs on the Keds website.[36] The company also announced that its shoe manufacturing was moving to Michigan, in the U.S. for the first time in 35 years.[32]

In March 2017, Keds partnered with Rifle Paper Co. to launch a collection of shoes featuring the brand's floral illustrations.[37]

Popular culture[edit]

The shoes have been featured in television and film including Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen) on Saved by the Bell, Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and D.J. (Candace Cameron) on Full House, Lucy Camden on 7th Heaven, Becca Thatcher (Kellie Martin) on Life Goes On, and Frances "Baby" Houseman (Jennifer Grey) in Dirty Dancing.

The shoes have been worn by celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Betty White, Humphrey Bogart, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift.[9][13]

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.[38]

Keds are mentioned in the Wheatus song Teenage Dirtbag. The shoes are worn by Noelle, the girl the subject of the song.[39]


  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. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  4. ^ "The 12 original Dow stocks: Where are they now?". MSN. July 1, 2015. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Keds Sneakers". Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  6. ^ Evan Morris (November 9, 2004). From Altoids to Zima:The Surprising Stories Behind 125 Famous Brand Names. Simon and Schuster. 
  7. ^ "Keds Brings Sneaker Art to Gortz 17 Stores". Sportswear International. April 13, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  8. ^ "It Isn't Spring Without Keds". Trendsylvania. May 4, 2015. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Roseary Feitelberg (November 23, 2011). "Keds Kicks Off Apparel at Opening Ceremony". WWD. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  10. ^ Stephanie Pedersen (August 15, 2005). Shoes: What Every Woman Should Know. David & Charles. 
  11. ^ "Mark McNairy x Keds Triumph Canvas". FNG Magazine. July 9, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Kedettes". The Hutchinson News. April 19, 1938. 
  13. ^ a b "Marketing Keds to a New Generation of Feet". University of Pennsylvania. February 24, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  14. ^ Jean Williams (April 24, 2014). A Contemporary History of Women's Sport, Part One. Routledge. 
  15. ^ Martin Marks (October 23, 2009). "Flashback: Bobbito Garcia Revamps The Pro-Keds Royal Flash". Paper Magazine. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  16. ^ a b c Mari Davis (January 13, 2009). "Pro-Keds Shoes: The Original Court King". Fashion Windows. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b Nick Santora (October 16, 2012). "The 50 Most Influential Sneaker Sponsorships in Sports History". Complex. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  18. ^ a b Stephen M. Pribut, Douglas H. Richie. "2002: A Sneaker Odyssey". Dr. Stephem M. Pribut's Sport Pages. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  19. ^ Yuniya Kawaura (January 28, 2016). Sneakers: Fashion, Gender, and Subculture. Bloomsbury Publishing. 
  20. ^ Tyler Atwood (April 4, 2014). "How Did Converse Become Popular? A Brief History of The Iconic Sneaker". Bustle. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  21. ^ N. R. Kleinfield (March 23, 1986). "Sailing To The Top". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  22. ^ "My Life As A Voice: The Road to Show Biz Through your Golden Pipes". Los Angeles Times. June 18, 1995. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Mischa Face of Keds". New Idea. December 5, 2006. Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Collective Brands Appoints Rick Blackshaw as Keds Brand President". Marketing Weekly News. February 11, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Taylor Swift Meets Her Perfect Match: Keds!". Refinery29. 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  26. ^ "Keds Signs on as Taylor Swift Tour Sponsor, Announces Limited Edition RED Tour Sneaker". KELO FM. March 18, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Keds Celebrates the 1989 World Tour". Complex. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Footwear Plus Announces Plus Awards Winners". Footwear Plus. February 5, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  29. ^ Shandra Martinez (September 26, 2014). "Wolverine World Wide switches up leadership of Keds, Sperry Top-Sider brands". MLive. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Executive Changes at Wolverine Worldwide". Sportswear International. September 16, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  31. ^ Lara O'Reilly (July 22, 2015). "Keds wants Taylor Swift to transform its canvas shoes into feminist icons". Business Insider. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  32. ^ 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. 
  33. ^ Gina Marinelli (February 12, 2016). "Ciara Sang At A 100th Birthday Party This Week". Refinery 29. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  34. ^ Anna-Lisa Yabsley (February 10, 2016). "Keds Enlists Leading Women To Help Mark Its Centennial Year". Footwear News. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  35. ^ Laura Lorenzetti (February 11, 2016). "The New Keds Ad Campaign Is All About Girl Power". Fortune. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  36. ^ Chan-Lo (February 11, 2016). "Snaps: Ciara, Tori Kelly and Allison Williams Team Up With Keds For Centennial Campaign". CNK Daily. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  37. ^ Sarah Yang (February 15, 2017). "4 Designer Keds Collaborations You'll Love". Real Simple. Retrieved August 5, 2017. 
  38. ^ "Loomstate makes eco-friendly Keds". Los Angeles Times. June 12, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Teenage dirtbag lyrics Wheatus". Retrieved June 18, 2016. 

External links[edit]