KEEN Partners With to Change Lives With HybridLife Hope

KEEN is always looking for a better way to make a shoe; a way that brings together function and efficiency, earth friendly sensibility and style, and that combines responsible business practices with giving back to the community. The new Santiago Collection (set to launch in Spring of 2010) is a testament to this mission. With this exciting new collection they have successfully created an instant classic, a stylish collection with an old school twist that has the power to revitalize communities around the world…..

“At KEEN it has always been about more than just making shoes”, says James Curleigh, CEO of KEEN. “This season, we thought, why not create a shoe that not only looks good and feels good but does some good as well? The result – the Santiago collection. Laid back styles manufactured old school and eco-friendly with the power to bring HybridLife and hope around the globe.”

Let’s start at the beginning, the community that ignited this big idea – Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic. The D.R. is a beautiful country, full of color, life and lucky for KEEN, a long history of making footwear.  KEEN went there to make a brand new shoe, one that uses natural cotton canvas, locally produced rubber, and no adhesives. 

But to do that KEEN needed the right tool: a hand-operated direct vulcanization machine, German-made over 60 years ago. KEEN searched every corner of the word, in Poland and Russia, Turkey and Spain, to find a few dozen dusty models of this vintage machine. With a lot of elbow grease these machines were repaired and ready to return to work. First order of business for the refurbished beauties – to use heat and pressure to vulcanize a rubber sole to natural cotton canvas uppers, creating a shoe that’s simple, stylish and sustainable. Best of all, this shoe has got soul.

Santiago > HybridLife Hope > Small Loans. Big Steps.

KEEN wants everyone to enjoy a HybridLife so they are building a program around the Santiago Collection to help make this dream a reality. KEEN calls it HybridLife Hope. What does it mean? KEEN is thinking big. The goal – to raise one million dollars for micro loans to create opportunity and, as the name suggests hope, in impoverished communities across the globe. For the launch of the program funds will be focused on North American efforts ranging from the Santiago de los Caballeros to re-energizing the Gulf Region.

Here’s how it works. KEEN will donate a portion of the proceeds from each pair of Santiagos sold to the HybridLife Hope fund. KIVA, an expert in micro-finance, will serve as the connector between the money raised through HybridLife Hope and the people turning those ideas into reality through micro loans.

RE-IMAGINE: Trendy as Thoughtful
RE-THINK: Old School as Earth Friendly
RE-USE: Junked Machines as Treasures
RE-ENERGIZE: Communities through Credit
Santiago – It’s a way of life. KEEN calls it HybridLife

Some things you may not already know about KEEN:

KEEN Inc., manufacturer of hybrid footwear, socks and bags, is an outdoor brand that delivers innovative hybrid products, enabling outdoor enthusiasts to live an active lifestyle. Founded in 2003, KEEN was first recognized for its Newport sandal, which featured patented toe protection technology. Since then the company has been recognized for outstanding trail and casual products, and in 2010 was named one of “America’s Best Places to Work” by Outside Magazine.

The company strives to demonstrate integrity and leadership, especially on social and environmental commitments, while promoting a vibrant, inclusive community that attracts all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. Through its giving program Hybrid.Care, KEEN supports a variety of social and environmental organizations around the globe.

Keep up with the ways KEEN is creating possibilities, reimagining the outdoors and caring for the world around us through the KEEN HybridLife Community by following them on Twitter (@Keen_shoes) and Facebook (

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