Who Wears the World's Ugliest Sandal?
March 20, 2023Mar 20, 2023
6 MIN READ culture living outside
We think like begets like, good vibes beget good vibes, and that the only thing more original than our original hybrid sandal, the Newport, is the person who's wearing it.
With over 30 million pairs of Newport sandals sold since 2003, that's a whole lot of originality out there in the world ... like these three New Yorkers who are following their passion to make the world a more together, happy place through the things they make.
We have a special place in our heart for makers. Making the most original, versatile, durable, comfortable, and Consciously Created shoes is what gets us out of bed every morning. But it's seeing folks out there living a life of originality and good vibes that gets us through that mid-afternoon lull with smiles on our faces.
What's your Newport story? Share your craft with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag @KEENEurope.
Who: Nora O'Neil, co-owner of Friends of Form
What: She followed her heart to go from hobbyist to entrepreneur when she co-founded a vintage furniture studio in Brooklyn during the pandemic.
How: "My career started in the fashion industry and developed into the interior design space over time. I’m passionate about sustainability, and I have an entrepreneurial spirit, which led me to launch Friends of Form, a multidisciplinary studio & showroom specializing in 20th century collectible design. I have a knack for cultivating aspirational spaces and designing bespoke pieces, which has allowed me to really explore & experiment with my creativity.
"I feel like I’m able to achieve what matters most - bringing people together."
"Through my work, I feel like I’m able to achieve what matters most - bringing people together. I believe in the power of design to enrich our lives, because what is good for the individual contributes to the greater good of the community."
Why Newport: "I now live in New York City but was born & raised in Boulder, Colorado. Being outside is integral to who I am and KEEN has always been a household name. For me, staying connected to nature is a top priority. When off-duty, I love spending time with my Great Dane, camping, and creating unique floral arrangements."
Who: Alex Gowon, photographer and creator of GOON artzine
What: Alex is a former dancer who followed his love of creativity into photography, music, and zine creation.
How: "I’m naturally curious and see things through exploring eyes, seeking the unusual in a usual world. I’ve been able to translate this across my creative mediums, including music, art, style, and photography. I first picked up a camera in my high school junior year and just had a knack. I was in photography class, and my teacher stopped giving me assignments like the rest of the class and instead told me to follow my instinct and capture what I see. Crazy to think that now it’s such a large part of how I make a living. I shoot portraiture and my style is very cinematic, often seeming like film stills. I’m a very visual person, and I take a lot of inspiration from film and movies. Growing up in Utah has also shaped my art. The landscape there is really special and quite unlike anywhere else. You get to spend a lot of time living, and for me shooting, outdoors."
Why Newport: "Historically for me I’ve always seen the Newport as a utility shoe because I grew up around people hiking in them. Because photography is quite physical, they also work super well shooting around the city when you’re running around trying to grab angles. As a creative, I seek individuality and originality in my work. It is forever inspiring to see brands like KEEN creating something visually and aesthetically original to them."
Who: Gia Seo, founder of Department Of, Inc.
What: This self-proclaimed "sock-fluencer" rocks socks & sandals while running her creative studio.
How: "My love of creation in art spans across a multitude of mediums and is hard to pinpoint. As I love to work with my hands, they are the lens I use to really visualize something. Oftentimes I find that seeing something with my eyes is not enough - I feel a longing to physically hold it in the depths of my hands. There, I find my mind starts to drift and form ideas, and I believe that most of my art starts in this way, from a physical feeling. I used to think that I should only create for others or for things to be seen, but a few years ago I found that mindset to be extremely limiting. Most of the work I create is only for myself and is a form of therapy to which I am the sole audience and its storyteller. As I evolve every day as a person, I found that the biggest source of inspiration for me is curiosity and what can come of it. And my curiosity allows me to spend a lot of time alone which is why a large percentage of the work I create remains in my studio, unseen by others. In another way, that is at the heart of inspiration for my art, creating for the love and joy of creating with no expectations or lingering doubts and judgements.
"We all work with our hands, one way or another."
"When my ideas do make it to the public world, it's manifested through my creative studio Department Of, Inc which I founded in 2018. Through creative direction, creative production, wardrobe styling, etc., my concepts can blossom on a larger scale, and it's a privilege to work with other creatives who believe in your vision and are committed to it. We all work with our hands, one way or another, and whether it's with a paintbrush, a spoon, a welding saw we are all creating art most days.
"I think 'originality' is a tricky term these days. Some people would argue that it doesn't exist anymore as everything has been tried or reinterpreted and tried again. I would argue that 'originality' as a term has many different layers and holds different levels of value for different creators."
Why Newport: "Growing up in Alaska, all I wore in the summer were sports sandals to conquer the abundance of outdoor activities. Slipping into the Newport sandal reminds me of those long summer days carrying my sandals in hand, dipping my toes in and out of the tundra picking berries. The softness of the material, the sturdiness of the sole, the extra cushion of the heel allows me to comfortably wear the Newport through tricky (icky) city streets, all the while daydreaming of grassier knolls. Celebrating life outside in New York usually means a lot of walking and trekking through cement streets to find the small sliver of oasis in a park, a basketball court, an outdoor restaurant, a bike ride along the East River. And with the humidity and heat in NYC, sneakers can make my feet feel like they are suffocating, and heels with sweaty feet are...an interesting feeling. KEEN makes it easy to commit to all the activities above without the aches and pains - well, maybe not a full game of basketball but a game of HORSE yes!"