Keen Inc. celebrates ten years of the Uneek, the “original open-air sneaker.” In Spring/Summer 2024, Keen will host a series of “Global Experiences” in collaboration with Mita Sneakers, Only NY and End in Tokyo, New York and London. For a global launch, Keen will also feature the Uneek collection in key cities and retailers worldwide.

To round out the celebration, Keen will introduce three new variations of the Uneek open-air sneaker, available in  men’s and women’s styles. 

  • The Uneek II Convertible features an adjustable heel strap that the wearer can pull forward and secure around a bungee to wear as a slide. 
  • The huarache-inspired slip-on version, Uneek II Harvest, is made with natural and recycled materials. 
  • Uneek O3 is a lightweight sneaker-inspired version with a lightly cushioned heel back.

The History Behind Keen Uneek
“Keen’s Director of Innovation, Rory Fuerst, Jr., set out to solve a problem. Traditional shoe construction relies on flat, 2D pieces of material and faces a challenge—creating a single construction that fits all is not feasible. The pieces are cut like puzzle pieces, sewn together and shaped to form the uppers; however, attaining an ideal fit for a three-dimensional object ( a foot) requires meticulous processes and materials and flawless construction.

“Keen decided to challenge the norms of footwear manufacturing by examining the foot. The company focused on how uppers are constructed, how they interact with the foot, and how they attach the upper materials to the sole. The breakthrough came using cords. By utilizing cords, Keen created a more form-fitting upper. Taking it a crucial step further, the company introduced a second cord and a junction point where the two cords intersected, making the upper work harmoniously with the foot.

“Perfecting the prototype was not easy, and no factory wanted to make it. It was so different from anything the industry was used to. As a result, Rory, Jr. relentlessly pursued how to bring this to scale with countless trips to the factory to make it happen. And Keen did not stop there. For ten years, the company has perfected the Uneek and now houses all production in Keen family-owned factories—increasing efficiency. What originally took 57 minutes to make now takes just 15 minutes per pair,” reported Keen.

“The Uneek open-air sneaker is a product of years of research and development. I started with two problems to solve: defy industry standards for how a shoe is made and deliver an unencumbered fit. An amazing team around the world and I dedicated three-plus years of our lives to developing this project, challenging the idea of what a shoe is and how it should fit. We used cords instead of sheets of material and worked with factories to create brand-new shoe-making methods. It was a long journey, but the result is a shoe that truly feels like an extension of your foot,” said Keen Director of Innovation Rory Fuerst, Jr. 

Today, customers get to experience the latest and most advanced features, which include, “Adaptable and Original Fit, Consciously Created Materials, Goes Everywhere Traction, Breathable Comfort, Support Underfoot.” 

Go here for more product information and to see the newest Uneek styles. 

Images courtesy Keen