Keen Inc. has created the UNEEKBOT, a robot that will assemble made to order custom UNEEK footwear for fans in real time.
Keen describes UNEEKBOT as “the world’s smallest footwear factory” and represents the first time that Keen will create custom shoes with a robot in a retail setting.
“This project allows Keen to chart a new course within the footwear industry,” says Casey Sheahan, Keen president. “This is the next evolution in what we make, and how we make it, allowing Keen to fearlessly pursue self-expression and creativity through our products, manufacturing and personal relationship with fans of Keen footwear.”
“By bringing the manufacturing process to the retail setting, Keen is challenging the status quo and engaging fans directly with a completely new in-store experience,” says Tyler LaMotte, Keen vice president of global brand marketing. “Our fans are at the center of our business, and we want them to be part of our process. Having the UNEEKBOT in a retail setting allows us to co-create custom product where our fan shops and lives. We are reimagining our approach to production by drastically reducing wait time and removing the need to ship product to the consumer. A hyper-local manufacturing process is groundbreaking, both in production and environmental footprint.”
Based on a consumer’s preference, the UNEEKBOT will be able to color customize the key components of each UNEEK footwear, including the sole, EYEstay, heel, cord colors, hardware and bungee cord. The manufacturing process cuts production time in half and, by building UNEEK footwear with the consumer present, Keen’s carbon footprint is significantly diminished by eliminating the need to ship products post production. Each pair of robot-built UNEEK footwear will include a custom outsole reading “PDX Born, TYO Made.”
“The UNEEKBOT is the next evolution of the UNEEK footwear story,” says Rory Fuerst, Jr., Keen director of innovation. “The UNEEKBOT is bringing custom-made footwear to a fan, in store, in under 30 minutes, removing the need to ship products to the consumer after production. This is a breakthrough because it isn’t just about manufacturing speed, it’s about precision, challenging industry norms and making us think differently about the future of the footwear industry. What some people thought was impossible is now reality. That is what Keen has always been about. We want to keep pushing the boundaries of convention.”
The UNEEKBOT will have an initial launch this summer at a hi-tech Keen pop-up store in Tokyo’s Harajuku district, July 21 through 23, 2017. Following the pop-up launch, Keen will partner for a special in-store UNEEK footwear experience with the iconic Japanese street-fashion retailer BEAMS at its Harajuku store on August 4, 2017. The Keen UNEEKBOT will also be present at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Trade Show in Salt Lake City in July 2017, bringing futuristic and eco-conscious inspiration to the bi-annual outdoor industry event.
Photo courtesy Keen