Designer Brands Inc. — parent company of DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse and The Shoe Company — is continuing to expand its roster of owned and exclusive brands with the acquisition of Keds and an agreement to become the exclusive licensee of the Hush Puppies brand.
The company has acquired the Keds footwear brand from Wolverine Worldwide in a deal that includes all Keds products, including Pro-Keds, as well as the brand’s ecommerce business. DSW is already the largest wholesale customer of the brand, and now the company said it plans to “bring this quintessential footwear brand to new heights, with a wealth of opportunities to expand beyond the beloved and classic Keds silhouette.”
The Keds acquisition further expands the reach of Designer Brands’ owned brands into casual and athleisure footwear across both DTC and wholesale channels, supplementing the recent additions of Le Tigre and Topo Athletic. Keds also brings a large international distribution network into the Designer Brands ecosystem, and the company said it plans to “explore future opportunities to leverage this expertise and infrastructure across other brands” in its portfolio.
“Our growing strength in owned brands is evident, given that just 12 months ago, the athleisure category was a massive white space opportunity for us and we now control high-quality brands across multiple price points,” said Doug Howe, incoming CEO of Designer Brands and current President of DSW in a statement. “Our acquisition of Keds, which has an important presence in the athleisure space, is particularly exciting as it is an iconic brand with broad appeal for our customers and their families that gives us the potential to explore new opportunities both online and internationally.”
Designer Brands also announced that it is finalizing an agreement with Wolverine to become the exclusive licensee for the Hush Puppies brand in the U.S. and Canada. In 2022, DSW became the exclusive in-store distributor of Hush Puppies in the U.S. and began serving as a physical return center for HushPuppies.com customers. The new licensing relationship will grant Designer Brands exclusivity on the Hush Puppies brand across all channels in the U.S. and Canada, including potential wholesaling of the brand and management of the HushPuppies.com DTC business. The licensing agreement is slated to take effect later in 2023.
“Today’s announcements serve as proof of both the incredible progress we have made on our strategy to double sales of our owned brands by 2026 as well as the ongoing benefits of our relationships with top national brands,” said Roger Rawlins, outgoing CEO of Designer Brands in a statement. “I am incredibly excited to welcome the Keds brand into the Designer Brands family and to continue our journey with Hush Puppies.”