Design Director, Lifestyle

Product Design Portland, Oregon


Position at KEEN Footwear

General Summary:

The number one priority for the Design Director is to create, articulate, and execute the KEEN Design DNA in a way that delivers a premium product consumer experience and supports KEEN’s core values. Essential is elevating the consumer experience through exceptional product craft and pushing the limits of Design.

The Design Director will work closely with the Category Business Directors, VP Merchandising, Product Line Management and Project Management to facilitate the seasonal projects. The Design Director is the creative lead on all the projects in development.  Besides driving independent projects, the Design Director will be the creative backbone on all the other projects which are in the development process including KEEN Innovation Lab initiatives.


Key Responsibilities:


  • Conceives the short- and long-term design vision and strategies with a focus on innovation and craft; communicates creative vision and direction to key stakeholders 
  • Creates and publishes a design guide which communicates the KEEN Design DNA
  • Develops strong consumer-oriented points of view and leads the design team in executing the vision in seasonal product launches
  • Works closely with the International Development Center to ensure design consistency, improved speed to market & quality
  • Oversees execution of all product details, including construction detail, last, color, form, style, detail, graphic application, logo treatment, trim – all married to the KEEN Design language
  • Leads, influences, and delivers premium product across categories (Lifestyle, Kids, Trailhead, Waterfront)
  • Supports the ongoing out-sourcing of design capacity
  • Helps create and support the Footwear Materials process
  • Manages daily activities involving numerous design projects and concepts
  • Executes own seasonal design concepts with the intent to promote additional ideas beyond what is briefed

 Trend Research

  • Travels to trade shows, suppliers, global retail markets and liaison offices to discover, source, learn about, replenish, and develop trend information, materials, and new technologies
  • Engages leading trend organizations to bring direction and inspiration to team – workshops & teaching
  • Manages special material related projects including development where appropriate


  • Builds, manages, and develops a cross-functional design team (Graphics, Color, Materials); sets team and individual goals that align with department and function goals 
  • Effectively plans and executes seasonal tasks among internal and external designers
  • Manages/balances internal designers, material expert, color artist, and external designers
  • Challenges and inspire members to achieve design excellence and DNA
  • Organizes creative off-sites with creative team to be at the forefront of what the markets are needing and, more importantly, expecting
  • Maintains strong cross-functional relationships and builds matrix relationships across KEEN, ROFU, FIL and factory affiliates in service of the vision & strategy


Knowledge/Skills Required:

  • 10+ years of footwear design experience
  • Bachelor in Design or related field
  • Good understanding of leather, textile, and footwear components
  • In-depth knowledge of design process
  • Skills within illustration, whether this being freehand or computer aided (Illustrator/Photoshop/3D)
  • Proven ability to develop and inspire teams through accessibility, empowerment, regular communication, and recognizing and celebrating successes
  • Proven experience in identifying and planning for the development of technical skills, teamwork skills, and leadership skills
  • Experience leading strategic development and planning for a design team —in line with company direction
  • Strategic thinking and visioning; understands product relevance, positioning, timing and collections
  • Proven ability to build strong relationships and get things done in a matrix-oriented environment—inclusive of leading & influencing leaders 
  • Strong presentation and communication skills (verbal, written, visual, listening)—inclusive of executive audiences 
  • Strong people leader with proven track record of driving results through others 


Employee Conduct:  It is the responsibility of every employee to contribute to a positive work environment through: mutual trust and respect; personal accountability and integrity; desire for growth and learning opportunities; teamwork; positive, honest and effective communication and professional interactions with co-workers, customers and partners. 


Physical Requirements:

  • Ability to travel overseas, as needed, and work extended hours during peak periods


KEEN is an equal opportunity employer, who values an inclusive and diverse community. Qualified candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply and will be considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, or disability.