Over the years, Keds has provided a (literal) canvas for some of our favorite artists and designers — in recent memory alone, Kate Spade, Dusen Dusen and Alaina Marie have adorned the sturdy cotton uppers of these iconic tennis shoes. Their newest collaboration is unquestionably a work of art, but this time the focus is fabric: cult eco-conscious indie brand Ace & Jig has re-purposed excess, intricately crafted yardage from its collection of easy-to-wear, inclusively-sized women’s separates to create a group of brilliantly-hued trainers for the heritage sneaker brand.
Since its launch in 2010, Ace & Jig has quietly amassed a flock of superfans who prize the brand’s work-of-art cotton for its beauty and their everyday durability. “What they make is so special,” said Keds’ Global Creative Director Holly Curtis, who approached the company about working together last year, “but it can be worn every day.” Co-founders Jenna Wilson and Cary Vaughan travel to India biannually, where they’ve partnered with a family-run weaving enterprise in the country’s artisan-dense southern region to execute limited, seasonal batches of colorful and totally unique materials. “We like to say that we’re a textile love story,” says Wilson.
The brand is also relentless in its reduction of manufacturing waste; creating smaller objects out of remnants, sharing unused fabric with fellow designers, and cultivating a customer base that repairs and repurposes garments at events around the country. Despite the engineering challenges presented by using delicate loomed material and the comparatively low reserve of excess fabric, Keds decided that “the best way to honor what Ace & Jig is doing — and the relationship that they have with their consumer — was to use their exact textiles,” explained Curtis. After almost a year of testing and engineering, the result is a limited run of four cheery, crafty styles wrapped in signature prints; already sold out at Keds.com, but in plentiful supply (for now) online and in-store at Nordstrom.
Our best advice for shopping this collection? Run, don’t walk. “There’s a very engaged core audience that we are so lucky to have,” says Wilson, “and there’s a lot of excitement surrounding” the designs for Keds. Click through to see all of the textural, woven styles and good luck choosing just one. In the spirit of collaboration and re-purposing, we’ve added on a few extra shopping picks that make use of leftover fabrics.
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