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|Industry||Sportswear and Sports Goods|
|Gillian Meek, President |
Blake Kruger, CEO of Wolverine World Wide
|Parent||Wolverine World Wide|
Keds is an American brand of canvas shoes with rubber soles. Founded in 1916, the company is owned by Wolverine World Wide. The original shoe design, the Champion, was the first mass-marketed canvas-top "sneaker."
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 later acquired by Stride Rite Corporation. Because the shoes had a soft rubber sole, they became known as sneakers as the rubber soles allowed "sneaking around silently". By the early 1920s, the shoes were worn by Olympic soccer players, national and international tennis champions, and college athletes. In 1926, the Keds Triumph shoe was introduced.
Keds released "Kedettes", a line of washable high-heeled shoes for women, in 1938. In 1949, Pro-Keds were introduced as a line of sneakers designed for athletic performance. Designed specifically for basketball players, the original style, the Royal Tread, was endorsed by George Mikan. In 1953, the Minneapolis Lakers were outfitted with Pro-Keds. Pro-Keds were intended to compete with the industry standard, Converse. 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, as well as music icons, The Ramones. The shoe earned cult status in the hip-hop community by the late 1970s.
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. Many cheerleaders also wore Keds as part of their uniform during the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s.
In January 2012, Rick Blackshaw was appointed brand president of Keds. 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. In September 2014, Chris Linder, former CMO and senior vice president of business development for Sperry Top-Sider, became president of Keds.
Keds launched the "Ladies First Since 1916" campaign in July 2015, which focuses on female empowerment and featured celebrities including Taylor Swift. In 2016 Keds celebrated its centennial and the continuation of its "Ladies First Since 1916" campaign with a birthday celebration held during New York Fashion Week. The company also announced that its shoe manufacturing was moving to Michigan, in the U.S. for the first time in 35 years.
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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, Frances "Baby" Houseman (Jennifer Grey) in Dirty Dancing, and Cat (Ariana Grande) on Sam and Cat.
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.
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."
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.
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