Building Shoes in America
July 03, 2020Jul 03, 2020
innovation making shoes
We've been consciously creating footwear since 2003. And while a lot of the choices we make are focused on materials and construction techniques, it's not just about how we make shoes. It's also about where we build them.
Did you know that 1 in 3 KEEN shoes are built in one of our own KEEN factories in Portland, Dominican Republic, or Thailand? We're one of the few remaining global shoe manufacturers that own their factories. Not only does it bring us closer to our responsible manufacturing processes and the people who ensure the KEEN level of quality and craftsmanship, it also makes it easier to quickly pivot our operations when, say, we need to convert a Targhee boot production line to make face masks in the middle of a pandemic.
Even though lots of folks told us that we couldn't build shoes in America, we're celebrating 10 years of proving them wrong — in one of the most modern shoe factories in the world — right here in the Pacific Northwest. Get an inside look here:
"In 2009 we said, 'We're going to open a shoe factory in Portland, Oregon," says Rory Fuerst, Jr., KEEN Innovation. "We brought in some of the best engineers in the footwear manufacturing world, and everyone said, 'You're crazy.'"
After a lot of hard work and a "fearless approach" to doing things in a way that's in line with our values, we did it. And we've kept doing it. The shoes and boots built here have changed over the years. Right now, in addition to several KEEN Utility work boots, our tried-and-true KEEN Durand hiking boots are assembled in Portland, Oregon, using quality materials sourced from around the world. We’re proud to bring footwear manufacturing back to the USA.
"I think there's a big sense of pride with the people here doing it, and they're proud to build shoes here," says Connor Fuerst, KEEN Quality Control. "To go see someone actually wearing a product that you've made, I think it goes a long way for myself, for the company, and for the people who are working here."
Rory agrees. "That's one of the things that's so cool. To say, 'I made that shoe.' You know, that was lost for so many years in America, and now I just feel like it's back. And that's super cool."