Fans of Keen‘s outdoor footwear were quick to note a Gucci sandal from the spring 2019 collection that had more than a passing resemblance to the Portland-based company’s Newport sandal, distinguished by a strap-filled upper and a rubber toe.
The Gucci shoe was featured prominently in a spring ad image showing a line up of models wearing the Newport with pink socks, shot from the knees down. The shot was a was part of the label’s “Showtime” campaign, taking inspiration from ’40s-era Hollywood musicals.
When Keen caught wind of the take down of their shoe, rather than raise hell it chose a route in keeping with the brand’s personality by setting up its own version of Gucci’s photoshoot. Using a black version of the Newport featuring tie-dye straps, the brand added an extra dose of humor by including Riley the dog among the Keen employees included in the image. The image caption is equally magnanimous and reads: “Dear @Gucci. We’re inspired by your inspiration from our inspiration. XOXO KEEN Team
Erik Burbank, Keen general manager of the outdoor division, told the NY Times the company intentionally chose a lighthearted approach. He explained, “When we first saw that, I personally felt a bit of amazement to see how the outdoors is taking hold from a style perspective. Playful is part of our persona and our brand, and part of that is the desire to share in the fun and joy of the outdoors with as many people as possible. When we see big brands, especially sophisticated fashion brands, trying to capture some of that, we think it’s pretty cool. And then we were humbled and kind of flattered.”
Check out Keen’s tribute photo below.