For Keds, toeing the line between heritage and innovation has given rise to its new tech-based Studio Collection.
The sneaker brand has created an effortless, stylish footwear solution for women commuting to the gym, and even for some light machine-based workouts, and the Studio Collection’s technical fabrics and lightweight components pack a punch of performance not found in Keds’ core collection.
Keds president Gillian Meek said the Studio Collection is a way for Keds to bridge its 100-plus years of designing sneakers for exclusively for women with the wants, needs and expectations of contemporary consumers.
During its development, Meek said the Keds’ product team looked at the shoe “from the ground up.” The first pieces Keds stripped away were the textured rubber outsoles typically found on its canvas sneakers. Lightweight EVA outsoles with ventilation channels, which Meek noted is more common in athletic footwear, now replace rubber, giving arches a boost of support.
The medial sides of the shoes have a dual density piece of EVA, which provides stability for all-day wear. Contoured foam footbeds with perforations offer breathability.
Soft, lightweight, breathable jersey and mesh were the go-to fabric solutions for the Studio Collection. For uppers, Meek said the goal was to make a shoe that was easy to put on, and that also stretched and formed to the foot’s shape for comfort. The shoes are also lined with Dri-Freeze, a soft performance fabric with cooling comfort and moisture control properties.
“And that’s the formula for us,” Meek said, adding that consumers are responding to the Studio Collection’s light weight construction exceptionally well.
In fact, the shoes are among the lightest Keds has ever made. A size 6 Studio Leap (a lace-up) in jersey weighs 3.7 oz. The Studio Liv (a slip-on) in jersey weighs just 3.4 oz, both of which weigh less than a banana.
The line is also picking up momentum among travelers who appreciate the shoes’ versatile, packable design, Meek said.
After a trial run on Keds.com, the brand is rolling out the Studio Collection at retail this spring, starting with Macy’s. The tight debut collection includes a lace-up sneaker and a slip-on sneaker and retails for $59.95. Keds plans to build out the Studio Collection with more silhouettes, colors and price points for Fall ’18 and Spring ’19.
The Champion remains the foundation of Keds’ business. However, Meek said the company recognizes that there is a whole host of new consumers who are engaging with technology in every aspect of their lives.
“I don’t think we ever felt like we would deviate from the Champion business, but we feel this is a response to an evolution to consumer taste, or an addition,” she added.