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January 20, 2018 / 12:28 pm EST

Fashion and Accessories

An Active Outdoor Company that’s Keen on the Environment
An Active Outdoor Company that’s Keen on the EnvironmentNov 2, 2008

When Portland, Oregon-based Keen Inc. decided to rethink how socks were made, the company figured if there were right shoes and left shoes, then why not a right sock and a left sock.

So Keen set about making socks that fit each foot perfectly – no extra fabric meant no extra bunching. But it wasn’t just about the fit; it was also about crafting more sustainable socks.

Keen uses natural, renewable materials like Merino wool and organic cotton that are better for the planet and feel great on your feet. Keen said the quick drying recycled polyester puts plastic bottles to “socktacular” use.

For its Fall 2008 Hybrid.Sox collection, Becky Chambers, Keen’s Marketing Manager, said the company is introducing its Off-Road Mt. Airy sock, a trail and hiking sock featuring new environmentally friendly moisture wicking technology called Dri-release E.C.O. (Environmentally Correct Origins). Because of this technology, the socks wear longer, fit right, breathe better and are naturally sustainable. The Mt. Airy is available for women and men in Ped, Quarter and ¾ Crew silhouettes.

In addition, Chambers said as part of its Hybrid.Think initiative to rethink its approach to sustainability, Keen is also introducing the Concord sock, made of recycled polyester and sustainably farmed Australian Merino wool.

Chambers said because the dye is injected into the yarn via a needle, it minimizes the amount of dye used in the manufacturing process and creates colorful dye patterns that differ slightly from sock to sock. The result is a breathable, quick-drying sock that’s unique inside and out, Chambers said. The Concord collection is available in Crew Lite for women and Quarter Lite for men.

“We certainly don’t say we’re a sustainable company or our products are 100% sustainable; they’re not,” Chambers said. “We’re a company that’s taking small steps when we can in the right direction toward trying to find more sustainable materials and building more sustainable products and processes.”

In addition to sustainable socks, Keen makes a series of bags, called Hybrid.Transport, that include backpacks, tote bags, and messenger bags that contain recycled aluminum and rubber. Chambers said the zippers are made out of the recycled aluminum and the protective bottoms of many of the bags are made of rubber left over from footwear scraps.

Chambers said the bags in Keen’s new Harvest Collection are made out of recycled rice bags and recycled brown bags.

“We looked at our waste stream and our factories and because we’re in China there are rice bags from rice that’s served in the employee dining areas and the paper bags that are used to schlep things around the factory,” Chambers said. “So we took those bags and created a whole series of bags and wallets. It’s a pretty cool collection. Just by looking at them you can see a pretty neat story because you can actually see the patterns on the rice bags. They’re really fun and because of the way they’re made and the materials that are used every one is little bit different.”

By Linda Rosencrance

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