Footwear Brand Keds Championing Female Entrepreneurs With Its “Ladies For Ladies” Collection

Feminism is no longer just a political and social movement, it has become interwoven into many aspects of public life, as well as consumerism. There are many within the feminist movement and within the feminist media space calling out brands and companies for simply just adopting the word without any sort of action to back it up, and for good reason. You don’t get to slap a “This is what a feminist looks like” slogan on a t-shirt that costs more than what some people make in a month’s wages, and claim it is anything close to fighting for the social, political and economic equality of call genders.

But there can be a positive side to having major brands champion equality, especially when you consider the fashion and advertising industries (for example) have traditionally been known to position women in objectified and sexualized ways with little to no autonomy. So when a brand genuinely tries to take steps toward authentic empowerment, we like to give them props and hold them accountable, so they know consumers are watching.

Popular footwear label Keds, which has been around for over 100 years, has been on a mission to prove that female empowerment is part of who they are. And when you think of the evolution of women’s rights over a 100-year period, that is saying a lot. They have been promoting the Ladies For Ladies collection as part of the greater #LadiesFirst campaign which goes further than just having famous female celebrities like Taylor Swift or Allison Williams featured in their advertising.

The brand has been partnering with a number of female entrepreneurs behind the scenes to champion and promote their work. In a profile piece on AdWeek by Katie Richards, Keds’ CMO Emily Culp says collaborating with a select group of entrepreneurs and business women is indicative of how they want to authentically show their commitment to female empowerment.

“It’s just an evolution of our position in the marketplace, which is ladies first since 1916. We’ve always been working with female collaborators and frankly we just decided to brand it and that’s why it’s called Ladies For Ladies. It’s just another way that we are being authentic with our consumer,” she said.

Keds re-launched their website to have the look and feel of a blog, rather than an e-comm site, and shoppers can also get to know some of the entrepreneurs they have been working with. They include Alice Saunder, creator of New England-based bag company Forestbound, Anna Bond of the now-famous Rifle Paper company and New York-based designer Kristin Texeira.

Along with the unique products designed by each woman for the Brand, each of the entrepreneurs’ section of the site gives insight into their background and their views on being championed as women in the market.

“Female empowerment means whole heartedly believing that you are no less capable of achieving your goals simply because of your gender. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, but as Forestbound’s 10-year anniversary approaches, I’m trying to step back and celebrate the fact that I started it all on my own,” said Alice Saunders.

“A majority female team is rare in the art world, so it’s exciting to see a movement in that direction,” said Kristin Texeira, who was the first artist they collaborated with for the Ladies For Ladies collection.

While the notion of a brand collaborating with female entrepreneurs is certainly not unique, it is important to see companies going beyond catchy slogans and timely one-off campaigns to recognize that female empowerment is not just a trend, it is a way of life.

To truly champion women in an industry (fashion) that is undoubtedly still male-dominated in terms of who is at the very top of major fashion conglomerates, it has to happen at every level of the company, not just in a marketing campaign.

“To me as a CMO it’s really important to be authentic when it comes to female empowerment. Another way to look at female empowerment is ensuring that we are empowering other female entrepreneurs and this is another way to do it,” explained Emily Culp to AdWeek.

She added that Keds will look to expand the program as long as the message and the campaign continue to resonate with its customers. They would also potentially look into creating an apparel line.

We love the Ladies For Ladies collection and hope that Keds continues to expand its female empowerment focus. We’d love to see some more diversity, messages that are inclusive of even more people, and a leading example of what it looks like when a well-known brand uses its platform to raise the profile of up-and-coming entrepreneurs and artisans.



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