What are Keds? (And What Makes the Shoes Special)

What are Keds: All About the Keds Brand and Shoe Styles
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Last Updated on July 2, 2022

How much do you Know about Keds footwear? If it’s not much, you’re in for a treat!

The world of rubber-soled sneakers is nowadays famously led by Vans and Chucks. However, Keds are like the ninjas of low tops, ruling from the shadows without all the fanfare.

In fact, these rubber-soled shoes actually coined the term sneakers when they first came out, because of how you could sneak around silently with them! 

Keds have been creating history all along, capturing the hearts of many fans all around the world. Not to mention their amazing collaborations with brands like Rifle Paper Co, Taylor Swift, and Kate Spades.

Here is all you wanted to know about Keds and their best low-top models.

A little bit of history 

Origins of Keds

The U.S. Rubber Company was founded in 1982. It joined together many different rubber manufacturers in Connecticut, and under its name their product range soon expanded to include rubber-soled shoes.

In 1916, they consolidated 30 different shoe brands to create one company called Peds (from the Latin word feet). However, that name was already taken so they changed it up to Keds.

1938 Keds Sneakers Advert

When did Keds come out?

By the early 1920s, Keds were worn by tennis champions, Olympic soccer players, and athletes all around. In 1926, the famous model Keds Triumph was released. Later on, in 1938, the washable high-heeled “Kedettes” for women were introduced. 

Kedettes Advert
Vintage Kedettes Advert

It wouldn’t be until 1949 that Pro-Keds would come out as a line of sneakers geared towards athletic performance and particularly designed for basketball players (endorsed by George Mikan).

Where are Keds made?

Up until 2016, Keds was made in Michigan, US. Currently, there is no clear information on any official site as to where and how Keds are made, be it in part or as a whole. 

What are the core principles behind the brand?

Since its conception the brand has always had a strong message of empowerment for women, urging them to be who they want to be and going where they want to go. This message has stood the test of time and is still very much a part of the brand.

There's No Such Thing as Average Girl Keds Ladies First Since 1916 Advert

Their Ladies First Since 1916 campaign featured content celebrating the brand’s commitment to female empowerment. The fact is that their main consumer, women, are very much at the center of every discussion that defines where Keds is going as a company.

They’re always vying to connect with their consumers, ensuring that the message doesn’t go off course. 

What are Ked’s top characteristics?

Keds are minimalistic. Their design could be considered innocuous, in the sense that they are neither chunky nor unexpected. Their general likes are smooth, soft, and offer no surprises.

Do they have arch support? Not much in general, but there are some boot models that have pretty good arch support, so I guess it depends on the style. 

Are keds true to size? In my personal experience, yes. I do prefer their wide sizes because the tip can be a little narrow though. If you are between sizes, my advice would be to size up. 

Are they affordable? They are also generally affordable, with a ton of pairs under the $50 budget. 

Are Keds comfortable? Yup, they are made of canvas, which makes them super comfortable and soft. Blisters are rare with such soft materials, and to top it off they offer wide sizing so you have more room for your toes. 

Are Keds non slip? You bet! With their textured rubber soles they offer as much grip as one can get.  

Are they easy to clean? They are very easy to clean thanks to their washable materials.


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Collections and Best Models

While they were originally focused on making women’s simple yet chic canvas footwear, Keds has expanded its scope to include men’s shoes and accessories as well. They also have standing collaborations both in footwear as well as apparel. 

What are the main styles?

Keds’ main styles are the:

  • Champion Originals (basic laced up low-top)
  • Slip-on
  • Chunky sneaker (that has a thick sole)
  • Mule
  • Slippers

Top Models

Taylor Swift for Keds Collection

The Taylor Swift Keds Collection was popular when it was released.

My Top Picks (Women’s):

I am a huge fan of going for original models from historical brands like Keds. There is something quite magical about wearing iconic classics. I mean, I can totally picture myself doing some Dirty Dancing moves with these beauties.

This is the absolute-perfect boating shoe! The fabric is super soft and I can attest to how it fits like a glove. The shaft is quite low and the sole is cushioned for extra comfort. 

Why? The florals! The Rifle Paper Co ongoing collaboration with Keds has produced many amazing prints! I actually have a white flowery laced-up model already so this black slip-on seemed like the perfect addition to my closet.

Kate Spade’s collabs are the solution to your holiday party footwear! Bye bye heels, welcome Keds! You are guaranteed to party through the night and feel like you are walking on air the entire time.

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My Top Picks (Men’s):

This novel take on a bootie is supple and light and offers a bit more ankle support than your usual Keds, making it great for uneasy or rocky terrain (I’m thinking of a rocky beach, this is definitely not for hiking or anything of the sort!)

Pro models look much more sophisticated than plain old Keds. For starters, their heritage silhouette, their suede & nylon tongue, and their oversized woven label clea. They are also visibly bulkier and offer a lot more arch support than other thinner sole models. 

Clash by Night

Clash By Night Movie Actress Wearing Black Keds

It was 1952 and Marilyn Monroe wore Keds for a relaxed style that was decidedly more casual than her usual fitted dresses and high heels.

Two for the Road

Two for the Road: Audrey Hepburn wearing Keds and eating a baguette

It was Audrey Hepburn’s turn in 1967 to wear a pair of Keds sneakers for her adventures all over Europe in this classic film. 

Dirty Dancing

Keds’ biggest hit was, without doubt, its starring role in this classic dance movie. Jennifer Grey, who played Frances “Baby” Houseman, wore her sneakers on almost every dance-practicing scene (of which there were a lot!). 

Now and Then

Now and Then Movie Wearing Keds

Keds were pretty much a staple in this 1995 film (with stars like Christina Ricci and Thora Birch) where four friends reunite in their hometown after years of drifting apart.

American Horror Story (S09E02)

Actress wearing keds in American Horror Story

Madison Montgomery, played by none other than recurrent actress Emma Roberts, wore a pair of navy Keds during the summer camp season. 

Stranger Things (S01E04)

Stranger Things Movie: Keds

Natalia Dyer, who played Nancy Wheeler, was also spotted wearing Keds on this supernatural/mystery series that is set during the 80s.

Celebs who wore Keds

Ramones wearing Keds

Despite the urban legend that the Ramones always wore Chucks, they are wearing Keds on the first cover of their 1976’s album. 

Emily Ratajkowski Wearing Keds
Emily Ratajkowski Wearing Keds in Bed

Emily Ratajkowski seems to also be a Keds fan. She has a couple of cute outfits wearing Keds on her Instagram account.

Ariana Grande wearing white keds
Ariana Grande Wearing White Keds with her Dog

Meanwhile, Ariana Grande has worn hers to the 2015 Variety’s Power of Youth Paramount Studios LA’s red carpet and to walk her dog, Toulouse, around the city. 

So, is Keds a good brand?

I would say yes, it is an affordable brand that offers great quality, comfort, and a wide variety of styles. They are also starting to make their style with ethically produced materials and with a longer shelf in mind, instead of the typically short life expectancy of most sneakers. 

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