We returned to our archives to find these photographs of hardworking men at the S.B. Foot Tannery. It is the main leather supplier for Red Wing Shoes and has been a proud member of our community since 1872. Taken by local Red Wing, Minn. photographer Richard Gard in the 1950s, these photos capture true dedication to the honest craft of quality leather making.
This year Red Wing Shoe Company celebrates their 110th anniversary. It was 1905 when Charles Beckman founded the Red Wing Shoe Company, which today still operates driven by the values its founder impersonated: a ‘hands-on’ mentality and a dedication to always aim for the best product possible. Anniversaries inspire us to celebrate the present while simultaneously looking back at the path taken and honoring the events that made us who we are today. The second edition of the Red Wing Post, launching today, will follow that habit.
We visited the St. James Hotel, a historic landmark in Red Wing where time stands still, and we dove into our archives to dust off a series of portraits of the men working in our leather tanning facilities. Looking at where we are today, we explore the mentality and work of modern craftsmen. We met with the Wrenchmonkees, innovators in motorbike design, we got inspired by self pro-claimed ‘harvester of American culture’ Forrest Wozniak, and we learned about the adventures of photographer Yamandu Roos’ 10-year road-trip through Europe. And much, much more.
And since it’s not a true anniversary without a special treat, we proudly present our anniversary boot: The Huntsman. This boot has a design that is pulled straight from our archives, as there is always a place for nostalgia in a 110-year old company.
The Red Wing Post is exclusively available at the Red Wing Shoe Stores.
With a satisfying clunk, ten nails are driven home deep into the heel of an Iron Ranger boot. The operator deftly slides the boot out and in a single motion, pulls the lever that draws the next ten nails down their tracks into position. He slides a new boot into the machine and with another clunk, yet another pair of Iron Rangers is brought to heel. This process will repeat itself all day long as hundreds of pairs of boots march towards completion. It is a process that has remained the same for the past eight decades and through several generations of Red Wing bootmakers.
Our very own S.B. Foot Tanning Co. is best known for oil-tanned leather, which is used to build a variety of timeless Red Wing styles. This leather is water, stain and perspiration resistant, and has a more natural look and feel because less finishing materials have been applied, allowing its natural beauty to shine through. Oil-tanned leather is exceptionally durable and has been used to build countless work boots throughout Red Wing’s 110+ year history. Learn how to care for those leathers in the video below. Or visit our shoecare instructions page here.
When Yoji Tokuyoshi traveled to Italy from Japan as an aspiring young chef, he had no idea he would end up staying and opening his own restaurant after 10 years at the famed Osteria Francescana. Read more »
As the 1950s rolled on, the Red Wing Shoe Company found itself being pulled in different directions by the company’s three main divisions. The Salt Lake City, Utah branch was trying to build a line of shoes for West Coast workers, while the Dallas, Texas branch was focused on expanding the brand for women and children. The Red Wing corporate office in Minnesota continued to market to the working man in the rest of the country. Each branch had its own ideas about the company’s future, image, and marketing strategy. It soon became clear that the different personalities of each branch was becoming a distraction and spreading things too thin.
“The last shoe on earth will be a Red Wing shoe.” Kami, the owner of Red Wing’s oldest store in Europe, strongly believes this to be true. Located in Frankfurt, his store is considered an institute for shoe fitting, advice and service.
The longer a product lasts, the more soul it accumulates. The same goes for Kami’s store, where the colorful clientele leads to surprising encounters every day. From behind the counter, Kami shares his most memorable experiences.
We find Mona working between piles of leather positioned in a comfy space in West-Berlin, which feels more like a living room than a workshop. She sits at a table next to a wall filled with hand-tools. Mona crafts leather accessories that find their way to customers all over the globe.
As part of an ongoing video series, Red Wing’s Heritage division is partnering with independent characters who wear Red Wing boots to give a glimpse into each of their lives. The first video highlights Grammy Award-winning musician Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Volcano Choir. A lifelong resident of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and longtime wearer of Red Wing Heritage shoes, Vernon is no stranger to the Midwestern value of hard work. Read more »