Red Wing: The Boots That Built America

Red Wing: The Boots That Built America

Red Wing: The Boots That Built America

Find out more about the iconic shoe...

22nd August 2019


Back in 2012, The History Channel broadcast a series that gave screen time to some of the States’ biggest drivers of change. It was called “The Men Who Built America”, and it illustrated how these titans of industry (Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford) put the nation on the map.

The docudrama accurately highlighted the immense influence of these innovators, but its title was hyperbolic. The people who really built America were those toiling away on oil rigs, construction sites and factory lines – the men and women wearing Red Wing shoes.

In this trek through time, we reveal the role these leather boots have had in shaping a global superpower.


Battlefront boots

Red Wing was founded in the eponymous Minnesota city in 1905. Within a decade, these boots were the shoes of choice for heavy duty and manual labor work due to their excellent durability.

Then, when the First World War erupted in 1914, Red Wing became the primary supplier of military footwear for American soldiers, and again in 1939 for WWII.

The steel toecap design also proved an excellent option for miners – offering an added element of protection in a dangerous profession.


Soles for exploring

Following the end of the Second World War, Red Wing had a well-earned nationwide reputation for robustness and resilience. As the brand expanded to the east coast, they injected a fresh element of style into their shoes – turning them into boots for explorers.

Many Americans suddenly had more money to spend, and more ways to get from one place to another as transportation boomed. Red Wing quickly came to represent travelling, sightseeing and exploring fresh land, as thousands slipped on these pairs of leather soles to discover parts of their nation – and the wider world – that they’d never seen before.

Red Wing remained prevalent among the labor workforce during this period – while hunters selected their shoes for excursions into the untamed wilderness.


Marching towards modern America

As workforces across America began to see a rising influx of women in the 1980s and 1990s, Red Wing was there – as they always have been – to provide a sturdy platform.

The brand released a ladies collection which proved a huge hit with American women. They also added new safety features to pass the stricter standards enforced in workplaces – both outdoors and in corporate offices.

While some manufacturing was outsourced overseas, Red Wing continued to produce most of their footwear on home soil – creating jobs for the ancestors of hard-working Americans who wore the very same brand at the turn of the century.

Today, Red Wing boots are worn all over America by men, women and children. They’re a safety feature, a fashion staple and a symbol. They’re the boots that built America.

We can thank the strong spirit and tireless work ethic of labourers for creating our country – and Red Wing shoes have been there every step of the way. They hold an important place in a long line of leather-based products that have come to define us.



Photo by José Sánchez on Unsplash