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Who Wears Keds?
Transcript of Who Wears Keds?
Keds can be worn in many different ways. You can dress them up by wearing them with a dress or skirt, or you can dress them down and wear them with a pair of jeans and a tee, but either way you choose to wear them, you are expressing your identity. And once you own a pair of Keds you won’t want to stop. They come in all different colors and patterns to go with every outfit you can think of. Keds help to build stability of your style.
Just like in Alison Guy and Maura Banim’s article “Personal Collections: women's clothing use and identity” where they asked participants to keep a daily log for two weeks on what they wore, how they felt, and what they were dressing up for that day. They came to the conclusion that “Nevertheless most women recognized their relationship with clothes was ongoing and dynamic and that a major source of enjoyment for them was to use clothes to realize different aspects of themselves.” (Guy, Banim. 321) That is exactly what Keds (along with any other type of clothing) do for women. They make you realize different aspects of yourself, and help you really express that side of you. Being Keds come in all different colors and patterns, they help you really build up your style to express all the different aspects of yourself!
Now to the nitty gritty of the history of women’s Keds. Keds started out in 1916 and were the first sneakers ever made- quite literally. According to Suzzie Martin’s article “Brand profile for Keds”, they called them “sneakers” because the rubber sole made them quiet when you walked so you could “sneak around” and nobody could hear you- then came the term “sneakers” for any shoes with laces and rubber soles. (par. 1) I never would have thought the term sneakers came from Keds, or even from the fact that you can "sneak" around- it's actually quite clever.
Recently I discovered that not everyone knows what "Keds" are- I even got the question "What is a 'Ked'?" So before I take you on the journey of women’s Keds I’ll first tell you about the foot in the shoe.
In this essay, I will explore the history of women’s Keds and its social impact on self-identification, resulting in how Keds have evolved over the past century. I will come to the conclusion that although the shoe may have changed a little over the years , the person in them has not.
There’s an old saying, "You'll never understand a person until you walk a mile in their shoes"- let me spare you the time of trying to squeeze into a pair of women’s Keds and just tell you about the person behind those laces. The typical personality of a woman wearing Keds is the conventional type, meaning she follows the rules, is "All American", and traditional. Keds are used to express personal identity- in a way to show off a creative sense.
The first plain white canvas rubber sole sneaker came out in 1917.
In 1949 Keds introduced “Pro-Keds”. These were used more for athletic wear.
1963- Keds were in fashion during the movie Dirty Dancing: Frances "Baby" Houseman [Jennifer Grey] is vacationing with her affluent family at Kellerman's , a resort in the Catskill Mountains and she falls for Johnny Castle[Patrick Swayze] the resorts dance instructor. One thing leads to another and Baby (being the caring and helpful person that she is) ends up getting into the mix with Johnny and other hotel staff and ends up having to dance with Johnny. Being she doesn’t know the routine Johnny has to teach her- during one of the scenes in the movie, you can see Baby practicing her dance moves, but if you look closely Baby has on a famous pair of white canvas Keds.
Even back then Keds had a meaning behind it. In the movie Baby was a conventional type person. She was traditional and always did the right thing. Baby not only did good deeds in the movie, she also did a good deed by wearing some in style Keds while practicing her dance moves, because Keds were used for comfort and sports as well at the time.
The 80’s-90’s is when Keds really hit hard for women. Women wore these with everything- biker shorts, leggings, oversized T-shirts, oversized sweatshirts, cheerleading uniforms, nurses wore them, and to be more fashionable they were worn with slouch socks.
*Those are slouch socks
Even after Pro-Keds, regular canvas Keds were used with women sports, such as cheerleading. Any 60’s-80’s cheerleading uniform will come equipped with a pair of Keds. They were comfortable enough to wear while also not being a manly shoe- Keds are slim and girly.
Famous 1980’s American sitcom Full House, which featured a widowed father who recruits his best friend and his brother-in-law to help raise his three daughters in California during the late 80’s to mid 90’s. Over time, all three of the men and the three children bond and become closer to one another. Throughout the series you can see all types of crazy late 80’s and mid 90’s hairstyles and fashion, and of course in some episodes you’ll find a pair of Keds on any of the three young girls or their friends.
Notice their Keds and Socks!
All three of the girls meet the conventional personality requirements. They all were simple girls living a normal average lifestyle in California. All three of the sisters would be classified as the perfect "daughters", meaning they all followed the rules and were respectable. These girls expressed their identities by wearing Keds because at that time Keds were meant to be worn for comfort and to express your creative style without showing off too much. Keds were simple yet elegant, especially worn with those slough socks.
2008 Keds introduces Keds Studio. Keds Studio allows customers to create custom Keds shoes using images, text, and colors provided by Keds or from the customer's own files. This was a great way for women (although Keds studio was available to any gender or age group) to really express their personal identity, and what better way to do that than designing your own shoes!! This made women know exactly how they wanted their shoe to look and how it would fit one of their aspects that they wanted to express.
Take a look at different kinds of original designs from this blog user at http://kedsstudio.blogspot.com/
From 2012- Present Day: Taylor Swift becomes the face of Keds brand. In the article “Keds Enlists Taylor Swift to Transmit Girl Power” by Stuart Elliot, it states that “As Taylor Swifties proliferate in the media, the Keds line of footwear is preparing to introduce a campaign featuring Ms. Swift that delivers a strongly social message to the brand’s young, female target audience.”(par. 4) Taylor is being used as young women’s’ role model and also an ad for them to buy Keds.
On the social aspect of things, Taylor Swift is the perfect person to be the face of Keds. Taylor Swift is definitely a conventional person. If you had to describe Taylor Swift with one word it would be traditional- she is definitely a role model for the "All- American" look. And as stated in Elliot’s article they describe Taylor and say that “Her emotional connection with that demographic is very strong, so for Keds she looks like a good choice.”(par. 16) And they are 100% correct, Taylor is a good choice. Taylor throws on a pair of Keds with any outfit and looks stunning. Taylor Swift is a role model for young women because of her ability to use self-expression with her clothing and Keds, she shows other women how to express theirs as well, while throwing on a pair of Keds to complete the look.
Over the years Keds have evolved, and more than just by the prints on the canvas. Whether Keds were worn for sports, comfort, or as a fashion statement, they all served a similar purpose- to express one’s identity. Just like in Wang Xiaoyan’s article “The Headscarf and Hui Identity” where he states that “The headscarf, as a cultural phenomenon, is an expression of Muslim identity”(par. 1). See, Keds aren’t the only fashion accessory to express self-identity. Although Keds aren’t a headscarf, and have no relation to any religion or ethnicity, they serve the same purpose as the headscarf. A headscarf lets those women express themselves and Keds let young women express their identities as well.
Whatever way you feel like expressing yourself today, tomorrow, or the next day, just make sure you do it with a pair of Keds to complete your look.
First keds were used for comfort and sports, then they were used as part of a fashion statement, and now they're still being used as a fashion statement and a way to display self-expression. Keds identify who we are; they’re worn by simple conventional young women. From the peers at your school, to your sister, to big stars like Taylor Swift and Arianna Grande, and even to me, we all wear Keds and define our style.
This is the design template for Keds Studio
Whether Keds were worn for sports, comfort, or just as a color matching accessory, the person wearing the shoe has always been the same. Keds themselves have evolved with different styles and patterns, along with a new face for the brand, but the girl wearing them has always met the conventional/traditional personality. Every girl wearing Keds is a simple, rule following, "All- American" girl who chooses to express that personality by putting on a pair of Keds.