The US Rubber Company first introduced the Keds brand in 1916. Initially called Peds from the Latin word for foot, Keds created a shoe called the “Champion” with a soft rubber sole, canvas upper, soft cotton terry lining, comfortable arch support, and a secure heel and roomy toe.
The term “sneaker” was invented by the ad agency of Keds because the Champion’s rubber soles made them virtually silent and users could “sneak” along quietly.
Sports and pop culture
In the 1960s and 1970s, Keds expanded its range to athletic shoes – the Pro-Keds. Worn by basketball players, Olympic soccer players, international tennis champions, and college athletes, Keds was called the shoe of champions because of its reputation as America’s premier athletic brand.
From the mid-80s through the mid-90s, teenage girls were seen wearing Keds with leggings and rib-cuff/slouch socks in cold weather, with baby doll dresses and bike shorts for cheerleading, or with a floral skirt and tee during summer.
Keds girls also wore their favorite sneakers on TV, including Erin Moran on Happy Days, Tiffani Thiessen on Saved by the Bell, Jodie Sweetin on Full House, Alyssa Milano on Who’s The Boss, Kellie Martin on Life Goes On, Beverley Mitchell on 7th Heaven, and Christine Lakin on Step by Step.
On the big screen, Keds graced the feet of Matilda, Frances “Baby” Houseman in Dirty Dancing, Claire Lyons in Clique, and Bella Swan in The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
The Keds Spring 2012 collection is inspired by two on-trend themes: lawn party and pool side. The lawn party theme features classic Keds with a tailored flair, made from materials such as linen and Hopsack and designed with plaids and stripes. The pool side theme exhibits new styles with bright hues and tropical prints.
The new summer drop is full of color blocking and metallics. Keds has put a new spin on the Champion basic and the street-styled Booster and Conquest. Most silhouettes come in a subdued palette with greens, grays, browns, and blacks.
The original Champion sneaker has remained a style icon for nearly 100 years. From tennis pros, artists and beatniks of the ’60s, to style icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie O, just about everyone has had a pair of Keds.
In 2011 Keds finally branched out to the apparel business, introducing its first collection of 85 sportswear designs at New York’s indie fashion retailer Opening Ceremony. Keds apparel draws inspiration from American style icons who have worn Keds over the past 100 years – icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Onassis, Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart, and Natalie Portman.
The Spring 2012 women’s collection is full of florals, peter pan collars, pin-tucked cropped pants, colorblock knits, sporty tank dresses, and gauzy Swiss dot blouses – all with a slightly vintage, prepped-up spin perfect for warm-weather weekends.
Rich in heritage, strong in performance and revered in style, the last 96 years have proven that Keds is a champion brand in every way. The future for Keds will continue to bring authentic classic style with innovative advancements in performance and materials to meet the needs of athletic and lifestyle leaders in the 21st century.
Keds at Karmaloop.com
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