Keds – Catalog for 1927

Keds - Catalog for 1927

Publisher: United States Rubber Company / Keds / Marion Rubber Company

24 pages (including covers)

The U.S. Rubber Company was founded in 1892 in Naugatuck, Connecticut, a merger of 9 different rubber manufacturing companies. In 1916, each of the 9 companies footwear divisions and brands (roughly 30 total) were rebranded under one name: Keds (called this because Peds, the name they initially wanted to use, was already trademarked). While the story goes that Keds actually coined the term 'sneaker' in their subsequent advertising campaigns, this is in fact not true (the word sneaker appears precisely 0 times in this entire catalog).

The history of Keds notwithstanding, this catalog, Keds' entire 1927 footwear product line, is an incredible piece of sneakerature for several reasons. The first is the remarkable amount of time and effort that went into the design, layout and execution (it was made 90 years ago!).  There are multiple typefaces throughout the catalog, the inner pages are made of a high gloss paper (different from the covers), and many of the images of the shoes are actually in color(!), albeit brown. The coloring is especially cool; if you look closely you can see that the B&W image was first printed, and then brown was applied in the shape of the shoe on top of the print.

Other tidbits of note:

  • Men's sizing was divided into 4 categories: Men's, Boys', Youths' and Little Gents'
  • Women's sizing was divided into 3 categories: Women's, Misses' and Growing Girls' (although there is one more category simply called Childrens')
  • The inside cover has a note to the retailer, expressing the risks of carrying too many shoes, "It retards turnover, complicates sales work, restricts the buying of needed new styles, confuses the customers and leads directly to a top-heavy stock of odds-and-ends at the close of year."

Sneakerature's Take: A fascinating and informative snapshot of what the sneaker/athletic shoe market looked like 90 years ago.