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Keen Footwear catalog to feature Portland, bikes

Posted by on May 26th, 2006 at 6:05 am

Keen catalog shoot

[On location at Tanner Springs Park.]

Outdoor sandal and shoe company, Keen Footwear recently moved their headquarters from Northern California to Portland. A few weeks ago I got a call from their ad agency saying they wanted to feature bicycles and someone from the bike community in their upcoming Spring 2007 catalog.

One thing led to another and yesterday I met with the agency downtown to shoot photos for the catalog.

The guy laying down in this photo is Chris Milliman, the photographer on the shoot. Turns out that he does a lot of work in the bike industry. Check out his website for some beautiful bicycle images.

After our first session at Tanner Springs Park in the Pearl District, we cruised up to Mississippi Street where I introduced the crew to Kim Fey, co-founder of North Portland Bikeworks. They shot some photos of me hanging out in front of the shop and talking with Kim. I’m curious what they’ll end up putting in the catalog.

It was fun to play model for the day, and I’m glad I got the chance to infiltrate their catalog with Portland bike scenes.

But really, I just did it for the free shoes.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Curt Dewees May 26, 2006 at 6:56 am

    Yeah! Keen using the coolness ofPortland’s bike culture to sell shoes!!! That’s rich.When I heard Keen was moving to Portland, I wrote them to ask if they were going to develop an SPD-compatible shoe or sandal, to meet the needs of all of us Portland cyclists who like our footwear to be compatible with our bicycle pedals. They send back an unsigned form letter saying pretty much, “Thanks for your letter, but we’re not interested.” I’m tempted to call them a bunch of ass clowns but that would be insensitive. Maybe they’re just slow to catch on to Portland’s culture. If we keep reminding them of where they live now, and who we are here, maybe they will see the light and realize they could make a lot of money selling SPD-compatible Keens.

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  • Mikee May 26, 2006 at 12:49 pm


    I thought of that too recently after buying and totally digging my first pair of Keens.

    Having worked at companies that got tons of unsolicited product ideas, I am somewhat sympathetic to them not sending a personalized response. In a perfect world that would be the thing to do, but the reality is that it can be hard to keep up with the incoming flow of product input. I think a great company would answer every feedback it got, but it seems that Keen is just average in this regard. To their credit though, I haven’t enjoyed a new pair of shoes this much in a while.

    Give em a chance to settle in before you judge them too harshly on their Portland cred. Just pickikng up and moving here is a pretty big step for any any company, and a statement in and of itself.

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  • Patrick May 26, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    WHOA!!! Journalist ethics, no freebies. Next thing you’ll be telling us how cool Keen shoes are, all the time. Wait, I already know this, I own 3 pairs. Just kidding, awesome……

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  • patrick(db) May 26, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    ha ha, Curt, that’s funny, I wrote Keen and told them to do exactly the same thing. Just don’t sue them for stealing your idea when they do, is the thing.

    i like their shoes a lot and if they made an SPD compatible shoe, that would just be another wad of my cash in their bank. so what’s keeping them from doing it? I guess, as Mikee said, we ought to let them get settled first, and maybe help out on some bike moves and volunteer at some Shift events (hint, hint) before we give them too much of a hard time.

    I’ll be interested to see how Keen choose to be a part of the Portland bike community.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 26, 2006 at 2:07 pm


    I think its just like bike advocacy or pitching a story to a journalist.

    I like to get to know someone first and then tactfully persuade them to see my way of thinking.

    Even though you’ve always got great ideas, you can’t just shoot off an email and hope for the best!

    I met their VP of Marketing at the photo shoot. She was cool, and formerly worked at Nike and Doc Martens. I hope to keep in touch with them in the future.

    As a company they’re about as hot as you can get right now, so I imagine they’re looking to expand their line-up…but on their own terms of course.

    And I’ll add my vote into the ring. A Keen SPD shoe and/or sandal would be awesome! I think they should call it the Esplanade…or maybe the Springwater.

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  • patrick(db) May 26, 2006 at 3:32 pm


    you’re hired!

    shoe= springwater
    sandal= esplanade.

    very nice. i likey.

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  • Randy May 27, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    If you’re modeling for their catalogue / adverts solely for free shoes, they’re ripping you off, I don’t care how ‘cool’ they are. All you’re doing is enabling them, and driving down wages for anyone in Portland trying to make a living while living an ‘alternative’ lifestyle.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 27, 2006 at 9:21 pm


    I’m not exactly sure where you’re coming from.

    I didn’t do this for the shoes. It’s all about promoting the Portland bike scene.

    The catalog will feature 3-4 people from Oregon that have done something on their own to make a positive change in their communities.

    I think it’s pretty cool they choose to promote this sort of thing.

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  • Randy May 27, 2006 at 11:13 pm

    The way I see it they’re getting something valuable for nothing; on the other hand, Portland bike culture shouldn’t be for sale.

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  • tonyt May 28, 2006 at 9:18 am

    Man, some people just have to slam on everything. And it’s not p-town’s bike culture, it’s just life … on a bike. And people like Jon are just having fun, and all the while doing great service to this community with all their work. Sheesh.

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  • Randy May 28, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    Whatever, I think it’s just a little naive to pose for publicity photos that someone else is going to use to sell their commercial product, without compensation. In any other city in this country, you can bet they would be paying their models with more than free shoes. And providing someone with free advertising copy is not the equivalent of bike advocacy, in my opinion. It’s fine that Jon had fun and all, I’m not knocking him, but rather the company. Are they giving anything back to the bike community here in exchange for the free publicity? For example, when New Belgium comes to town to associate their product with the local bike scene (Tour de Fat), they leave a substantial amount of money behind in the bike community, in the form of donating the proceeds from the event to the BTA and other bicycle advocacy groups.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 28, 2006 at 2:01 pm


    You’re getting ahead of yourself here. How do you know what they plan on doing? Heck, I don’t even know what they plan on doing.

    They haven’t even been in Portland a month yet.

    I’m glad you’re making these points, but I really think you should calm down a little bit before judging them any further.

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  • ron
    ron May 28, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    I agree with Jon. They have done a good thing for our locale by just moving here. That means folks are buying/renting homes and all the other services needed to live here. My sister-in-law worked for Adidas designing catalogues. They did all sorts of photo shoots with and without paid models in weird locations trying to produce a visual environment. They are not always out to rip someone off. Give em a chance and let your blood pressure go down some dude. Go ride your bike fast and take lots of chances… then you will be relaxed. Natural drugs!!! I also love my keens that I bought at REI at a real cheap sale. SPD ones would be way cool. If they actually make them, we need to support them and give them feedback on any improvement of design that may be needed… maybe they can even use some local riders as guinea pigs… I would do it for the use of the shoes!!!!

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  • Patrick May 29, 2006 at 8:00 am

    I’ve been noticing lately on many blogs not just Bike PDX how the comments seem to turn into a debate among those posting comments, or more simply put comments about the comments. Wouldn’t the Forum be a better place to discuss this kind of stuff?

    Wait, didn’t I just do the same thing?

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  • Anonymous May 29, 2006 at 11:12 am

    sell out

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  • george May 29, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    Pardon me for my ignorance, but what exactly is SPD compatible? And yes, I am a regular bicyclist and have never heard that term before.

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  • G.Dino Lamzid May 30, 2006 at 12:09 am

    How would I go about becoming an “Ass Clown”?
    I think I could do that.
    I bet the Clowns at the Clown house would do a shoe comercial in a heartbeat, it could be the diference between rent or no rent.
    Or the money could be blown on socks.

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  • Dabby May 30, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    I am going to say this once again.
    Anyone who goes on a bike ride without proper footware is stupid.
    And sandals on a bike are not proper footware, ever, not even on the ” I Hate Vera Katz” Promenade.
    I have seen toe damage done by cheap, keds style shoes, which was very horrific.
    I have seen toes missing from sandal wearers.

    Come on people, donot now, or ever wear for riding, or encourage wearing for riding, sandals.
    The liability of producing a open toed, spd compatible shoe would be outrageous.
    Shimano has done it for years, and I for one would be interested to know how may suits have come of it.

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  • Randy May 30, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    Ron – So free shoes seals the deal? Never seen ’em, probably wouldn’t wear ’em, based on what I know so far. News flash – slick LA shoe company takes advantage of folks in the boondocks, locals pose for free advert copy for free shoes! Get real, people should be compensated, living in Portland is far from free, this company knows suckers when they see them.

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  • Paul L June 5, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    The move to Portland, OR?! Do any of you folks up in OR wonder why the corporate move took place? GREED and white people.
    Bike sandals? Please..

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  • Dave June 5, 2006 at 8:32 pm

    Bike sandals are actually very cool (nice in the summer). At least on my Shimano’s the footbed extends far enugh in front of the toes to protect them reasonably well. If I was into single track I probably would use real shoes, but for road riding in the spring, summer, and fall they can’t be beat.

    I know that is off topic, but this thread could use a little.

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  • Curt June 5, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Upon reflection and a “cooling -ff period”, I think I would have to agree with Jonathan that a) Keen is new to Portland, so we should give them a chance to acclimatize to our culture before we start knocking them, and b) It’s probably better to get to know them first and establish a relationship, before we start hitting them up with our wish list of wants and needs, as a cycling community.

    As much as I would like to take credit, I didn’t make up the term “ass clown.” That came from the movie “Office Space.” One of the characters in the movie is named Michael Bolton, who bemoans the fact that, “Michael Bolton used to be a perfectly good name until that ‘ass clown’ came along and ruined it.”

    Why is Michael Bolton–the pop star– an “ass clown”? (besides the mediocre quality of his mass-market pop music). When Michael Bolton won a Grammy award for his remake of Percy Sledge’s classic Motown song, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” he got up on stage and thanked his manager, his producer, his agent, his record label, etc., etc., but he did NOT thank Percy Sledge … the one man who deserved the most credit of anyone for Mr. Bolton winning “his” Grammy award.

    To me, that’s the definition of an “ass clown,” someone who piggybacks on someone else’s hard work and creative genius to achieve a certain level of success and then fails to recognize the source of their success and give credit where credit is due.

    Keen Footware moved to Portland and promptly started using Portland’s cyclists and bicycling “scene” to market their shoes and sandals and make their products look cool,” while at the same time blowing off those Portland cyclists who expressed an interest in the possibility of Keen creating a shoe and/or sandal that would actually meet cyclists’ needs Does that make Keen a bunch of “ass clowns”? You decide.

    PS. I must admit: I already own three pairs of Keen shoes/sandals, and they fit and feel great. As far as “off the bike” footware goes, they are quality footwear.

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  • Jonathan Maus June 12, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    Randy said:

    “locals pose for free advert copy for free shoes! Get real, people should be compensated, living in Portland is far from free, this company knows suckers when they see them.”

    I just heard from Keen today. They are cutting me a check for what I think is a generous amount.

    Thanks for all your comments.

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  • Russell June 13, 2006 at 7:25 am

    Is Randy going to get 10% as your agent Jonathan?

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  • Jonathan Maus June 13, 2006 at 7:28 am


    With all due respect to Randy, he had nothing to do with the transaction 😉

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  • Pete July 31, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Hey Jon, are you selling out to the man in the Cadillac car smoking the fancy cigar?? 😉

    Man, some people should lay off the dope. Who knows why this \”LA company\” (since when is LA in \”Northern California\”?) moved to Portland, but I\’ve seen companies move to new locations simply because the CEO built a new house and doesn\’t want to commute. Chris King moved here from Colorado and it wasn\’t to exploit white people. He\’s ramped up his employment and made a very positive economic and community impact. But I\’m glad you intellectual business analysts know so much about Keen\’s ethics and motivations.

    Thanks for the link to this old article from the new one about Keen\’s SPD sandals. Hindsight\’s not only 20/20, but it\’s pretty stinking entertaining too!

    Now I\’ve got to go home and burn all my Michael Bolton albums…

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  • a-dub December 4, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    A little late to the thread but the CEO is a Lewis & Clark College alum and became Keen’s CEO in 2006. That might have played a part in their move to PDX.


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  • Anonymous December 5, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    They’re also doing some benefit arrangements for the Forest Park conservancy, including a free pair of Keens if you join FPC.

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  • […] on Keen Footwear. When they moved their corporate headquarters here in 2006, they wasted no time in putting bikes in their product catalog. Two years later, they promised to expand their cycling-oriented product […]

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