Redwing footwear is classic, sturdy, and loved by various generations. Their boots and shoes are handmade in the company’s Minnesota plant. However, the Mainland Redwing continues to provide work boots for factory workers, outdoorsmen, and farmers. The company’s foundation is making quality footwear for people on the job. However, you might be wondering how it all began. This Redwing history will walk you through the brand’s beginning and help you navigate the brand’s journey to where they are today. So on that note, let’s begin.
Redwing History and Philosophy
Charles Beckman started Redwing Shoes in 1905. Beckman was a businessman and knew firsthand about shoes while he was a shoe merchant. He was well aware that most farmers and workers in Red Wing, Minnesota, wore poorly designed and ill-fitting shoes. Therefore, he decided that he was going to create a special shoe that was ideal for this type of job. Although it might seem like an obvious business decision, it was revolutionary in those days. In 1905, the technology to do this on a massive scale was invented.
Beckman founded the Redwing Factory on the corner of Main Street and Potter three years later. With a well-equipped manufacturing facility and a budding partnership with S.B. Foot Tanning Company, Redwing Shoes seemed to have everything it needed. In a day, the company was producing 450 pairs of footwear. The first professional to explore this shoe was the farmer. It seemed fair that the company would tend to their feet first, as their wheat production put the little city on the map. Beckman called the shoe the Black & Brown Chief Shoe; Beckman created the first shoe in 1912. The shoe’s primary material was manure-proof leather which was the best choice for farmers.
Redwing History – World War
Trouble rocked Redwing during World War I, just a few years after the factory began. The men working in the factory left to fight, leaving the factory understaffed. However, Redwing still had an obligation to his country to produce quality boots that would stand the test of time. Therefore, he brought women to work in the factory for the first time. These women created the famous Pershing Boot for the men at war. The 1088 boot was quickly becoming the favorite boot by the Redwing company. It is Goodyear welted and features a stacked heel. It also comes with triple-stitched seams to ensure its durability.
Top-quality and well-manufactured boots are crucial in every war. However, its importance couldn’t be overemphasized in World War I because of the trenches. If your boots weren’t sturdy enough and let moisture in, it was easy to lose your feet. This is because prolonged exposure of your feet to cold and wet conditions could result in trench foot. Therefore, most soldiers went for Redwing shoes. The shoes remained popular even after the war due to their structural integrity.
Redwing History – The 1920s
The world was becoming more mechanical, and therefore, there were more workers in the oil industry. These workers in the growing industry turned to Redwing shoes to create a boot that met their specific needs. So, once again, Redwing got to work, resulting in the Old King Boot. This boot was comfortable and made of oil-resistant leather to ensure its efficiency in the field.
The 1920s was a prosperous and creative time for Redwing Shoes because this was when Beckman realized his dream for the company. The company started creating specialized footwear for every activity and demography. This means boots for men and women, boots for farmers, for riding, and many more. But unfortunately, this success and growth didn’t last because the Great Depression hit in 1929.
A new president took over Redwing shoes and brought the unique idea of rubber soles along. The company started experimenting with rubber soles in the late 1920s, and this led to the creation of fully synthetic shoes within the company. The switch to synthetic shoes helped to reduce costs for the company significantly. As a result, the company could create the no.99 boots with lower costs for the company. This showed that Redwing Company still cared about their working-class customers even during economic hardship.
World War II and the government contracts that came with them helped keep Redwing afloat. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the brand created the most iconic Redwing boots.
Redwing History: 1950 – 1980
1952 came with the launch of Irish Setter Sport Boots; this name came from the leather color, which closely resembles an Irish Setter Coat. The 1950s was an excellent decade for Redwing Company. It featured the proliferation of the moc-toe boots and the Postman Oxford. Although Redwing boots and shoes were very popular amongst the working class, they were now beginning to appeal to ordinary outdoorsy people. For most people, the 877, the original moc-toe boots, and the 875, which closely resembled it, were essential Redwing shoes.
The prosperous period of the 1950s and the raving success of the Irish Setter boot allowed Redwing to enter the 1960s and enjoy a comfortable period. The company opened a new factory and hired Norman Rockwell to make ads for the company. Although the 1970s was a difficult time for most American shoe companies, redwing Company could stay afloat through the period. Although the 1980s were tough for Redwing Company, they also acquired the S.B. Foot Tanning Company in 1987.
Redwing History: The Company Today
There was a new hiking craze in the 1990s, which drove up Redwing company sales. Their offshoot company Vasque allowed the company makes profits from this new hiking trend. However, most would argue that it was also around this time that Redwing’s quality began to decline. The non-Redwing lines like Worx, Irish Setter, and Vasque were being manufactured outside the U.S. 70% of Redwing’s boots were being made in the U.S. However, the brand sourced the non-Redwing lines’ raw materials from Vietnam, China, and Korea.
To revive its dying popularity, Redwing Company introduced the Redwing Heritage in 2008. Redwing produced these from the exact standard Redwing was mostly known for. The new Redwing heritage also revived most of the popular Redwing models. However, boots from the Redwing Heritage were pricier than the typical Redwing boots. As a result, they became the best part of the brand.
Top Features of Redwing
Some features are common with Redwing boots throughout Redwing history. Below, we are exploring some of them; let’s take a look.
All Redwing boots and shoes are Goodyear-welted. This means that if the soles of the boots wear out, you can always have them replaced. On the other hand, the upper end of the shoes is quite durable and will last you for a very long while.
Another top feature consistent throughout Redwing history is that they offer the best quality, and they do this with triple-stitch construction. This form of stitching helps to ensure that the seams stay in place. The brand started making this famous stitch on Puritan Sewing Machines, which became a constant throughout the 1920s. Unfortunately, although the machines are effective, they’re quite temperamental because of how old they are.
Christy Wedge Soles
One of the top features of Redwing Company is the incorporation of synthetic material in the boot’s outsole. This did not only save the company some money, but it also ensured that the boots lasted longer. Although using synthetic material in a boot’s outsole is now common practice, it began with Redwing Company.
Iconic Boots Throughout Redwing History
Redwing Company has created some of the best boots throughout its history; below are some of the most iconic boots we found.
The Blacksmith 3343
This is arguably the best boot Redwing ever made. The Blacksmith is the best plain toe boot. It is subtle and blends effortlessly with the rest of your outfit. Guys always look for timeless boots that aren’t too flashy or show-off. The Blacksmith is your best option if you’re looking for classic boots with all these features.
The Blacksmith possesses all the features of an excellent Redwing shoe. It is Goodyear-welted, comes with full-grain, oil-tanned leather, and has its origins in the United States. As a result, this boot stands out not because it is flashy but because it is well-made.
The Moc Toe 875
This is probably the most iconic Redwing boot you’re ever going to come across for many reasons. First, it is a casual boot that’s very comfortable. It is a streetwear-friendly boot that Redwing created for sportsmen. However, it makes for an excellent option for many outdoor activities, including hiking. It is a boot made to be comfortable out of the box because the goal is to use it for walking outdoors. Finally, it is more like a sneaker than a boot.
The comfort of these boots comes from the soft Traction Tread wedge soles it features. These soles have cork fillers in between the leather insole and outsole. The leather and cork will eventually mold to your foot and start to feel nice. If you want a boot that’s unique, stylish, comfortable, and in modern fashion, then this is the boot for you.
The Moc 1907
Most people don’t know the Moc 1907, but its unique features make it one of the best boots throughout Redwing history. It features Copper Rough and Tough leather, which is quite popular because of how excellently it ages. This Redwing boot also features a Norwegian storm welt that’s more water-resistant than the typical Goodyear welt. Although this type of welt is old-fashioned, it is an effective way of waterproofing a boot. This boot gives you the best value for your money and also features a padded, shock-absorbing leather footbed that’s quite pricey.
Most people recognize Redwing as a century-old family company founded in Red Wing, Minnesota. However, few people knew Redwing history or its journey to becoming a trusted footwear company. This article shares insight about the company’s history, its most common feature, and the best Redwing shoes in the industry. We hope that this helps you understand the value of the brand more.