Behind the Design: The Happy Accident of Howser
On our mission to create original hybrid footwear that helps make outside more accessible for all, sometimes the best design ideas happen by accident, by exploring those “what ifs” and turning an oops moment into an aha.
Just like that first time someone dipped their chocolate bar into peanut butter, 10 years ago our design team had their own happy accident/what if moment: What if we put an outside sole that we designed for a different shoe together with a slipper-like upper?
That’s how this original inside-outside “thing,” the Howser, was born. And it’s been a fan favorite for comfort and style ever since.
The house shoe that was destined for more
The name Howser literally means house slipper: house + er. But we realized early on that this is anything but a slipper.
“It’s always been about wearable comfort,” says Aaron Baker, a KEEN long-timer who’s been working here for over 15 years and is a walking KEEN history book. “We made an inside-outside house shoe, but our fans made it so much more. They slip into them after a day of skiing or while belaying someone rock climbing. And they camp in them. We love that Howser empowers our fans to go anywhere, outside or inside, and bring the comfort of home wherever they go.”
It’s the unexpected combo of features that has given Howser its inside-outside mojo and has made it a fan fave for a decade:
Sturdy sole — Durable, higher-traction rubber outsole made for outside. Non-marking for inside.
Warm and soft — That fleece lining that feet love. Plus cozy uppers that are quilted, fuzzy, plaid, and wooly.
Easy on — Slip on is great. The fact that they stay on is even better.
All-day cushioning — The removable PU insole maintains its cushioning for that feel-good Howser comfort every time.
Hygge meets friluftsliv
The Howser design hasn’t changed much in 10 years (although we’ve since added a chukka and boot). But people have gravitated toward these cozy slip-ons for different reasons over the years. Most notably when the Danish concept of hygge — the feeling of coziness and simplicity — was embraced outside of Scandinavia.
“We noticed Howser grow in popularity with hygge,” says Rachel Treinen, product line manager. “Cozy sweaters and big knit scarves. Airbnb in the woods. Wearing PJs out of the house. Howser fits right in with all of that.”
Beautifully illustrated by Japanese artist niŭ. KEEN fans in Japan love Howser.
Now a new Scandinavian concept is becoming popular as we rediscover outside while adjusting to life with COVID: friluftsliv in Norwegian. It translates to “free air life,” the idea that being outside and connecting with nature is good for overall wellness and something that can be part of our everyday, any time of year.
You could say that Howser brings both of these Nordic ideas together: Hygge comfort and style for living that open-air life in fall and winter. Howser takes the comfort of inside, outside.
We’d love to see how you take comfort with you outside. Whether car camping, sitting around a fire pit with friends, walking the dog, or cooking outside, share how you're enjoying that friluftsliv in the warmth and coziness of Howser and tag @keen.