He was never the face of a film franchise or a theme park or a comic book series (although there was a short-lived cartoon that existed in the late ‘60s), but Smokey Bear is still one of the most recognizable fictional characters in American history. His origins begin in 1944 when the United States Forest Service needed to warn Americans about the dangers of wildfires. Many of the firefighters in the country were serving overseas in the War and now the onus was on citizens more than ever before — 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by people. Today, Smokey Bear is the longest-running public service campaign in U.S. history. And most Americans know some version of the mascot’s slogan, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” which was coined by the Ad Council in 1947.
Although Smokey Bear has made us more conscious as a whole, wildfires are still very much a threat to our community and our wildlife. Now, the forest hero has partnered with iconic footwear brand KEEN on a new take on the latter’s Newport hybrid sandal. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the groundbreaking sandal is a legend in its own right. In 2003, KEEN was founded on its flagship model, which combined the openness of a sandal with the protection of a shoe. It was a game-changer, to say the least, becoming an outdoor staple and opening up an entirely new category of footwear.
Using the template, the new Newport Smokey Bear variants come in three colorways — green, beige, and brown — and feature Smokey’s visage all over the webbing. Where a lesser shoe would have made the graphics more prominent, these Newports feature the artwork quite subtly and, dare we say, stylishly. The heel loop features the “Only You” slogan while the lace bungee lock is made to look like the bear’s face. Of course, these sandals still feature KEEN’s signature pesticide-free odor control system and multi-terrain traction underneath.
To grab your own pair of the KEEN x Smokey Bear Newport hybrid sandals, you can head over to KEEN’s website starting March 27 and pick up your own for $135.