Skip to content

Red Wing History

Why we're Swapping Heels for Trainers

As with most of the brands that we stock at Cloggs, Red Wing’s reputation has been based upon a long, storied history of delivering fantastic high quality footwear.

Much like the blue collar workers that the boots were originally designed for, Red Wing are a brand that proudly embraces the indelible American characteristic of rugged individualism.

The company were named for the city in which they were founded, located in the south of Minnesota on the edge of America’s Rust Belt. With Minnesota’s high proportion of skilled immigrants arriving from Germany, Scandinavia and Ireland, shoemaking quickly emerged as one of Red Wing’s biggest industries after wheat farming.

Red Wing were founded by one of those immigrants, Charles Beckman. Beckman had owned a successful shoe store, but was determined to take his experience in the industry further. In 1905, he teamed with 14 local investors and founded the company, after he had convinced them of the potential of the untapped, blue collar boot market.

Just as the company had been founded by an immigrant, their early success owed much to the huge influx of people that the United States experienced in the next few years. The explosion in manual industries such as farming and steel-working, as a result of the increased demand for food and housing, led to more manual workers - all of whom needed footwear that was up to the task of their physically demanding jobs.

Red Wing’s production speaks volumes of how well their boots were received. In 1907, they produced around 25,000 pairs of work boots; by 1915, the number was more than 200,000.

The company once again tapped into their undimmed, quintessentially American spirit when the Great Depression hit, which they survived thanks to their legions of loyal customers and cost cutting measures that included burning scrap leather for heat. As with the rest of the American economy, World War II represents a monumental change in fortunes. By this stage, Red Wing boots were famed for their durability and comfort, and the US Army deemed them the ideal brand to make boots for the war effort.

From here, the company’s reputation only grew. The ‘50s saw the introduction of many of the Heritage styles the company are now well known for, including the 6 Inch Moc Toe boots like the 875, 8131, and 8138. These boots paid homage to another aspect of Red Wing’s history. The town was named for a Sioux chief, and the moccasin design featured on the toe boxes of these boots was originally a Native American style.

In the ‘60s, the company began to expand internationally, and even commissioned adverts from renowned artist Norman Rockwell. By the ‘80s, production was topping 2 million pairs a year. In recent years, Red Wing have experienced a surge of popularity for their Heritage range; not for work wear, but for casual. With their boots’ mix of rugged Americana, they have become seen as a staple item for any fashion-conscious man, and with their range of styles, there is a pair of Red Wings for everyone.

Images courtesy of Smashing Magazine and Behance.

View our full range of Red Wing Boots by clicking here.

Leave a comment