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Portland-based footwear company KEEN is teaming up with the Jerry Garcia family on a new, limited-edition collection that celebrates the late singer’s artwork and activism.
The collection, which launches August 1st on keenfootwear.com (to commemorate what would have been Garcia’s 78th birthday), re-casts two of KEEN’s most popular sandal styles with colors and motifs from Garcia’s watercolor paintings. Though he’s best known as a singer and guitarist with The Grateful Dead, Garcia also attended classes at the San Francisco Art Institute as a kid and eventually produced more than 2,000 paintings, sketches and illustrations, many of which are still shown in art galleries around the world today.
The KEEN x Garcia Collection draws inspiration from two of Garcia’s most beloved paintings: “New York at Night,” and “Banyan Tree.” The rugged KEEN Newport sandal (pictured above) is given new life with swatches of red and blue adorning its thick straps and soles. The UNEEK sneaker sandal, meantime, gets sweeping brushstrokes of watercolor paint along its tongue and strap.
Each pair of sandals is accompanied by a collectible postcard showing the original painting that inspired it. Garcia’s influence is also visible in the packaging, including his signature fish drawing on the shoeboxes, with an inlay sketch of the tiger that adorned one of Garcia’s favorite guitars.
KEEN says Garcia’s family approved the use of his artwork for the collection, which will launch alongside a civic engagement campaign titled #VoteLove. As part of the partnership, a portion of sales from the collection will go to HeadCount, a non-profit that uses the power of music to register voters and to encourage political action.
“At times like these, it’s important to speak up for what you believe in,” says Trixie Garcia, Jerry’s daughter. “We, the Jerry Garcia Family, have banded together with KEEN Footwear because we, like you, value being socially responsible and eco-conscious. One way to help make a better world is to vote.”
“Jerry Garcia’s music helped define a generation’s values of togetherness and community [and] KEEN was founded with similar values of bringing people together and doing the right thing,” adds Erik Burbank, KEEN Chief Brand Officer. “We’re on a mission to encourage people to take action and foster more love in the world. We see this as an alliance of two originals coming together with shared values to make a difference.”
Garcia’s connection to HeadCount dates all the way back to 2004, when the non-profit was first started. The organization’s co-founder, Andy Bernstein, is a well-known Deadhead and the author of The Pharmer’s Almanac, a series of books about Phish.
“HeadCount was started back in 2004 with the goal of getting every Deadhead and music fan registered to vote, so the spirit of Jerry Garcia is literally in our souls,” says Bernstein. “Now, he will be under our soles too.”
The KEEN x Garcia Collection features the two unisex sandals, a face mask and three different bags. Pricing ranges from $20 for the masks to $150 for the shoes. Shop the collection now on keenfootwear.com.