KEEN Brings the World’s Smallest Shoe Factory to the Streets of Tokyo


KEEN’s industry-defining robot goes consumer-facing, building UNEEK footwear in real time.


PORTLAND, Ore. (July 17th, 2017) — KEEN, Inc. (KEEN), a values-led, independently owned outdoor and lifestyle footwear brand known for its original and versatile products, will transform the footwear industry once again by creating the world’s smallest footwear factory in Harajuku, Japan with a robot that will assemble made to order custom UNEEK footwear for fans in real time. Merging craftsmanship with precision technology, the KEEN UNEEKBOT provides a glimpse into the future of footwear manufacturing.

“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.”

Innovation, a fan-centric business model and a relentless commitment to sustainability at KEEN are core to the genesis of the robotic manufacturing project. In 2014, KEEN launched the UNEEK footwear franchise, bringing construction efficiency with a minimalist two-cord design and a free-moving cord junction that provides freedom of movement, a precise fit and a unique style. The UNEEKBOT illustrates the evolution of UNEEK footwear by bringing custom-made footwear in front of the consumer in real time.

“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.”

In addition to being the world’s smallest mobile footwear manufacturing facility, this is the first time that KEEN will create custom shoes with a robot in a retail setting. 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. This forward-thinking footwear 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. Both launches are expected to bring out crowds of KEEN UNEEK fans in Tokyo, where the UNEEK shoe has a notable following within the streetwear community. 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.

Please direct KEEN media inquiries to Account Manager Massimo Alpian at

About KEEN: KEEN, Inc. is a values-led, independently owned outdoor footwear brand from Portland, Ore. with a mission to responsibly create original and versatile products, improve lives, and inspire outside adventure. Founded in 2003, KEEN ignited a revolution in the footwear industry with the introduction of the Newport sandal, launching the concept of Hybrid footwear into the market and setting KEEN on a path of driving consistent product innovation that exists today. KEEN strives to live by its values, from its products to its actions, and by activating communities and individuals to protect and preserve the places where we work and play. KEEN employees passionately endeavor to live fulfilling lives, challenge the status quo, do good, give back, and inspire others. Learn more at