KEEN Challenges Competitors To Be PFC-Free


Portland, OR-based footwear brand KEEN has established open sourcing for how it creates PFC-free footwear and has issued a challenge to the outdoor footwear industry to be PFC free by 2025.

The family owned outdoor brand ran a full-page ad in the New York Times as an open-source invitation to competitors on how it creates PFC-free footwear. The company is inviting industry product developers to visit to learn the process it has followed since 2014 to eliminate PFCs from its supply chain. PFC stands for Per Fluorinated Chemical. PFCs are non-natural chemicals that do not exist in nature, and studies have shown that PFCs, long used to achieve water repellency on waterproof membranes, are harmful to the environment and people.

"We spent the last seven years researching, developing and refining what is now a proven process to eliminate PFCs from our products without sacrificing performance, and we want to share this for the common good," said Erik Burbank, vice president, The KEEN Effect. "By keeping PFCs and PFASs out of our supply chain and products, we've kept 180 tons of fluorinated chemicals out of the environment over the last seven years.  We want to share this, so other brands can become PFC-free much faster. This is a constant battle and time is critical; if we collaborate, we can accelerate the positive impact and our planet will be a better place."

KEEN performed a complete audit of every component that is used in its products and worked with vendors and partners to remove approximately 65 percent of the PFCs within its supply chain. For the remaining 35 percent, the company invested significant time and resources over a four-year span that included thousands of hours of lab and field testing.

In January, Salomon Footwear announced that starting with its new Fall/Winter 20-21, its entire range of running and hiking footwear would be PFC-free.

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