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Red Wing 101: Roughout Leather

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We’re kicking off a new series on the Journal this year in which we’ll take a closer look at the different leathers and other components Red Wing Heritage uses to build its footwear as well as the construction techniques we use. We call the series, Red Wing 101. 

New Iron Ranger 8083
New Iron Ranger 8083

 

Worn Iron Ranger 8083
Worn Iron Ranger 8083

 

Winter can be tough on your boots. Salt, mud and snow can wreak havoc on leather, requiring vigilant care to ward off the inevitable scuffs and discoloration. And while all leather can benefit from occasional TLC, there’s one that shrugs off abuse better than most: roughout.

Roughout leather is the underside of a hide’s grain, so the grain remains intact. To better visualize roughout, imagine a loaf of bread where the crust is the full grain. The roughout is the soft side of a slice at the end of the loaf; a split grain would be like the inner slices. This gives roughout a surface texture that not only wears well but doesn’t require as much care to keep looking good. Since it is a thick, full-grain leather, roughout also provides superior support and durability, a feature that made it popular with midcentury mountaineers as well as the military who used it for boots during World War II. Roughout combat boots also didn’t require as much care in the field, an added advantage for soldiers.

Worn Weekender 3321
Worn Weekender 3321

 

Of course, all of these traits make roughout an excellent choice for Red Wing Heritage boots, such as our legendary Iron Ranger work boots, but we also use it for our more refined Merchant, where the oiled Muleskinner roughout stands up to slushy city streets. The matte finish and textured surface of roughout give the boots a slightly more dressed-down style, going well with jeans and chinos alike.

Merchant 8062
Merchant 8062

Though at first glance, roughout leather can resemble nubuck or suede, the three are quite different. Suede is usually made by splitting full grain leather, resulting in a thinner and less durable leather because there is no grain to keep the fibers intact. Nubuck is full grain leather that has the smooth side sanded to give it a more velvety texture. All three have their distinctive uses and advantages but it’s important to know the difference.

 

Worn Pecos 8188
Worn Pecos 8188

While roughout leather can take considerable abuse, you’ll still want to take care of your boots to keep them looking their best. Red Wing Heritage provides a Care Guide and has the right products to keep your roughout boots going for a long, long time.

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FACES OF RED WING | KRISTIN TEXEIRA

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It is said that writing about art is akin to dancing about architecture, an endlessly elusive attempt to capture the essence of one with the other. But that’s exactly what artist Kristin Texeira does with her paintings, sketches and collages—capturing memories, experiences and places in color and shape.

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“Color is what I see when I hear music, taste wine, or read the titles of short stories,” Kristin says, “Through color I am trying to remedy nostalgia; my paintings are the vessels that ferry viewers back in time, so they can encounter a moment again and again.”

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Kristin is based in Brooklyn but is anything but rooted there. She is a frequent traveler, drawing inspiration from the places she visits—Paris, Florence, a small town in Massachusetts—and then translating the things she sees and the people she encounters into her “memory maps”. Her art is spare and minimalist but evocative, conveying a sense of place through a simple line or a combination of colors. To see one of her works is to be transported to a place and time that at once feels familiar even if you’ve never been there.

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Artists have muses but artists themselves can also be muses. Kristin’s work with color, experiences and moments in time are what made her a perfect one for Red Wing Heritage, inspiring us when we created the new Women’s Collection. Good boots are timeless, transcending fashion with a form born from function—rich leathers and construction details that have an inherent utilitarian beauty, evoking moments in the past while inspiring action and creativity. “Remedying nostalgia” is what we do too, taking the classic styles worn by strong women in the early 20th century and reinterpreting them for the strong, creative women of today, like Kristin Texeira.

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Faces of Red Wing | Taylor Johnston

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“In keeping with the outstanding tradition of American-made workwear, our collection highlights American utility and construction,” reads the “About Us” page of Gamine Workwear’s website. “The inspiration… grew out of hard work, and the desire to create products where form and functionality are not mutually exclusive.”

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Reading this, you can see why Gamine’s founder, Taylor Johnston, became one of the muses for Red Wing’s new Women’s Collection. Taylor embodies what our new boots are all about—versatile, hard-working but resolutely feminine. As a horticulturist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and knows the value of durable gear, which is why she wears Red Wing boots. It’s also why she started her own workwear company in 2014 to make honest, hard-wearing clothes for women, products she tests in her greenhouse and which are built to last through years of use.

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After studying horticulture and geology as an undergraduate, Taylor earned a Master’s Degree in philosophy, but decided she would get more satisfaction digging in the dirt, so she went back to her first love—gardening. “It’s a job that requires a lot of intelligence and finesse, and working with your hands,” Taylor says about her profession. She adds that making workwear for people in the trades, “brings attention to the types of people who are proud and hold a lot of character.”

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We couldn’t agree more. Our new Women’s Collection boots are built with the idea in mind that hard work and beauty are not mutually exclusive. American-made out of durable materials, with a nod to the past but ready for years of service, our boots celebrate those women who like to dig in the dirt—like Taylor Johnston.

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Redefining “Lady-Like”: Introducing the Women’s Collection

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There was a time when only men wore trousers. But that changed in the early 20th century when ladies traded their dresses and skirts for long pants. That’s because pants are simply better for riding horses, climbing mountains, or flying airplanes, things women started doing with greater frequency. These were the same strong women who fought for voting rights and worked in factories during two World Wars. In the 1920s, Red Wing Shoe Company started selling women’s shoes and boots that were up to the rigors of these new feminine adventures—rugged and functional, redefining what was “lady-like”.

Barn Bluff, Red Wing, 1938. Photo courtesy of Red Wing Shoe Company, Inc., Red Wing, MN
Barn Bluff, 1938. Photo courtesy of Red Wing Shoe Co, Inc., Red Wing, MN

 

Now we’re doing it again. Introducing the Women’s Collection from Red Wing Heritage.

Gloria from the Legacy Collection
Style no: 3386, Gloria. From the Legacy Collection

 

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The new Women’s Collection not only pays tribute to our 20th century history, but is also inspired by the independent women of today. The collection is made up of three distinct families. The Legacy boots are directly inspired by two boots we made in the early 20th century—tall, rugged and refined. The Modern collection reinterprets classic shapes—a chukka, a Chelsea, and a lace-up—with a stacked leather heel and feminine lines, which make them both practical and stylish. And finally, the Core boots take classics from our men’s line that women have long cherished, and cut them leaner and more comfortable for a woman’s foot while keeping the legendary Red Wing toughness.

Style no: 3365, Iron Ranger. From the Core Collection.
Style no: 3365, Iron Ranger. From the Core Collection.

 

All of the boots in the Women’s Collection retain the hallmarks that have made us who we are. We use top quality leathers from our own S.B. Foot tannery, the same as we have since the beginning. All the boots are stitched together for unsurpassed durability, using Goodyear welt construction that makes them stronger and resoleable for a lifetime of wear.

When we decided to create the Women’s Collection, we knew the perfect person to spearhead its development: Allison Gettings. Allison embodies all that is a Red Wing woman—literally. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and father have all taken a turn at the helm of Red Wing Shoe Company since the 1920s. Allison remembers visiting our offices and factories as a child, no doubt smelling the leathers and hearing the machines that have long been used to skive, stitch and nail boots together. Two years ago we tasked Allison with the launch of the Women’s Collection, a job for which she was seemingly born and, after ten years working at Red Wing, a challenge she was ready to take on.

Allison Gettings, Director of Heritage Product Creation.
Allison Gettings, Director of Heritage Product Creation.

 

“We wanted to start with a tight collection that has really strong ties to our Red Wing DNA,” Allison says, “but we wanted to have a large enough collection with enough gravity that would appeal to customers who know Red Wing, but also those who are maybe new to the brand.”

Allison points to the Gloria boot as an entry point to the women’s line, a tall lace-up that pays homage to the first boot Red Wing made for women in 1926. “It’s important to us that we make these boots to not only look like ones we made in the past, but are actually made in the same way, with the craftsmanship and materials that we used when we first made these shoes.”

Of course, getting nine new styles created was a tall order and not one Allison did herself. For help, she turned to talented designer, Gaal Levine, to start penning the new boots. Gaal drew from her experience in footwear design but also found inspiration in Red Wing’s company archives.

Gaal Levine, Women's Footwear Designer.
Gaal Levine, Women’s Footwear Designer.

 

“When I first came here, I spent some time doing a deep dive in the archives, looking through old catalogs to see what made sense to bring back.” Gaal counts herself as lucky to work for a footwear company that has its own company archivist. And its own tannery. During the design and prototyping phase, Gaal and Allison were able to talk to the master tanner at S.B. Foot about what was possible—new colors and leathers that suited the unique requirements of building boots for women.

Style no: 3396, Lillian. From The Modern Collection.
Style no: 3396, Lillian. From the Modern Collection.

 

Women have long favored Red Wing boots and often would wear our men’s boots in smaller sizes. But the new collection is designed just for them, with lighter weight and softer leathers, more cushioned fiber insoles, and built around all new lasts that are tailored for women’s feet. So while the Engineer, Iron Ranger and Moc Toe of the new Core collection may look like their masculine counterparts, they’re entirely feminine, from the ground up.

While the Women’s Collection is new to Red Wing Heritage, making women’s shoes is not new to Red Wing. 90 years after we made our first boots for strong, independent women, we’re making them again, just as tough and beautiful as ever. Just like the women we make them for.

 

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Faces of Red Wing | Solid Manufacturing

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Alex and Dan Cordell

Dan and Alex Cordell: Owners of  Solid Manufacturing 

I grew up in a woodshop,Dan Cordell shouts above the sound of a lathe spinning a length of white ash. A shaft of sunlight is made three-dimensional by the dust in the air and chips fly as he deftly transforms the wood into a baseball bat using only hand tools. My Dad taught me everything I know.

Cordell and his wife, Alex, are the co-founders, and sole employees, of Solid Manufacturing, a company that makes and sells wood furniture, leather goods and a variety of household items you never thought youd need until you see them. Everything, from the wooden pour-over coffee stand, to the leather key fob, to the baseball bat, is made by Dan and Alex in a small workshop near a railroad yard in Minneapolis using domestic hardwoods and American made leathers.

Alex studied furniture design at Minneapolis College of Art and Design; while Dan focuses on the woodworking, she does much of the product development as well as the finishing worksanding and hand-oilingwhile managing the administrative end of the business. Watching them work together, it becomes clear that they complement each other well and play to their strengths.

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The Solid Manufacturing duo started making things in Dans fathers woodshop just south of the city, selling their wares at pop-up events around town and through an online Web store. We couldnt do what we do anywhere else but Minneapolis,Alex says while she rubs a block of wood with linseed oil. Its a city driven by people and community and when we launched, we were immediately embraced and it gave us the motivation and inspiration for us to keep going.

Solid Manufacturing is one of the latest in a long legacy of Minnesota companies that make things of quality using traditional materials and techniques, a legacy that includes the Red Wing Shoe Company. This is not something lost on Alex and Dan Cordell, who were wearing Red Wing Heritage boots when we stopped by for a visitAlex in a pair of 9111 round-toe boots and Dan in a pair of Iron Rangers. At the end of the day, my boots are always full of wood chips,he laughs.

So what makes Minnesota such a breeding ground for the so-called makerculture, where DIY becomes a society of inventors, designers and tinkerers? Is it the long winters that inspire creativity? Or perhaps the frontier history of self-sufficiency that has been passed down to its residents. For Dan Cordell, it came from spending time in his fathers woodshop and a desire to make leather bracelets for Christmas gifts. He bought some scraps of leather and thread and taught himself. I grew up in a place where you make things, or you try,he says.

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Solid Manufacturing Co. has an eclectic portfolio of products tied together with a common thread of honest Minnesota handcraft. But if Alex and Dan have a signature product, it is a three-legged stool made from black walnut, oiled to a rich brown, with legs painted in a number of bright colors. Its simplicity and stripped down purity of purpose are its appeal, not unlike a classic baseball bat, or a pair of Red Wing Heritage boots. In a wordsolid.

Cate Havstad

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Intro

Cate Havstad is full of bright, contagious and committed energy to her craft as a custom hat maker. She lives on a small farm outside of Bend, OR and draws inspiration from her surroundings and her supportive community of creatives.

We had a few days to spend with Cate as she worked on filling a tall stack of custom hat orders, helped out with the local Organic potato harvest, attended the farmer’s market and talked about her path.

What is your first memory of wearing a cowboy hat?

My first western hat came to me when I was 21 years old. I was thinking about dropping out of school for a while to go on tour with songwriter Willy Tea Taylor and help film a music documentary he was working on. I was nervous about the decision and perhaps knowing this or just out of kindness Willy Tea showed up one day with a flat brimmed vaquero style hat for me. When he gave it to me he told me it was my “movie making hat” and encouraged me to follow the inspiration that way to be found on the road. I decided to go on the trip and I wore that hat every day, it became a piece of a new and evolving identity. It was the beginning of my journey of finding that which truly inspired me.

What do you think is the biggest challenge about being a woman hat maker?

My little fingers keep me from making nice creases… NOT! I once had an older male hatter tell me this is why women hatter’s aren’t as good, not even kidding. You should have seen my face. The biggest challenge for a female hatter is hearing misogynistic comments like the above, unfortunately some our society is still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to equality and respect. Luckily, I don’t have to interact with these types often but they are out there. Other than that, I don’t feel like there are any challenges I face that a male hatter doesn’t face.

What do the “X’s” mean in the hat band?

The X felt grading system is not standardized so it means different things for different hatters. I adopted the felt grading system of one of my first teachers in which 10x is a European Hare fur felt, 50x is a Beaver/ Hare fur blend, roughly 50/50, and 100x is 100% Beaver fur felt. As of this year I am only working with the 50x Beaver Blend and 100x Premium Beaver fur felts as they are the qualities I believe are truly lifetime quality, and I only want to build lifetime quality hats.

How do the felts get dyed?

Some of my felts come dyed from the manufacturer, and for the last couple of years I’ve also been working on a Naturally dyed hat collection. By using High Desert plants that are wildcrafted, a dye bath is created with the plants and the felts are dyed with this plant dye. The resulting hues are a really amazing soft desert palate that I’m in love with. When I am working on those hats, the steam unlocks the smell of the plants in the felt and it fills my workshop with the smell of sage or rabbitbrush or juniper.

What boots do you have and why did you pick those?

I have the Clara boot in the Oro legacy leather. I’m so in love with these boots because they embody a feminine grit that is exactly my style. The boots have a slender mock toe for that classic Red Wing look but with a moderate heel adding a femininity to the boots profile. While I’m certainly a feminine woman I also am utilitarian in what I wear because I’m either on my feet all day working in my hat workshop or I’m helping out around the farm I work on, often transitioning from one to the other and having a functional boot that can play hard and look good is key.

Where is your shop?

Currently my workshop is parked at the farm I live on, Juniper Jungle Farm. Last year I bought a 32 ft airstream, gutted it and built it back up as my hat workshop. I took the airstream workshop around the country last fall, logging about 8,000 miles in 6 weeks. Since that hat-tour I have had my workshop in town parked next to a couple of local businesses but I found that I prefer a more private, quiet work environment which is why I’m now working from the farm.

Where do you find some of your most powerful inspiration?

My most powerful inspiration comes from the landscapes I’m surrounded by, the regional styles that are so distinct from one another, and my customers are very powerful inspirations to me.

Each hat is custom made and built to suit a particular person. In this way, the stature, style, family history or a new life endeavor that the customer happens to share with me might inspire a new hat style that I have never done until that person inspired it. Right now I’m interested in working more with my Hues of the High Desert hats that are naturally dyed, the plant hues are so unique and very inspiring.

Was there one defining moment when you realized that you were going to commit to making hats?

After I had decided to leave my first teacher’s workshop and strikeout to start my own workshop, I had a lot of self-doubt. The start-up period is so difficult for so many reasons, but one of the biggest transitions after leaving an apprenticeship is learning to do it on your own with no teacher to turn to when you hit a wall. The first public forum I sold hats at was at Bandit Town in California. All hail Bandit Town! Frankly, I was such a fresh baby hatter, that first collection I took to sell was terrible. I mean, it was terrible in retrospect but it was my first solo effort as a hatter, we all have to start somewhere and in those first years the key was make, make, make, I learned so much through just spending countless hours in my workshop with lots of trial and error.

That first day at Bandit Town before the vendors area was officially open I had two women walk up to my booth and each bought a hat off the wall and each ordered a custom hat as well. That moment was it, I can’t even describe the feeling I had. One of my best friends from childhood was helping me that day at the booth and at the end of the day he looked at me and said, “Cate, you’re doing it, I’m so proud of you” and I remember sitting there so exhausted after a hectic day of sales, I took a breath and thought, here we go. There was no going back after that first day of public sales, and my hunger to improve and dedicate myself to the mastery of this trade has been insatiable ever since.

Sheldon

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The history of the land, industry and culture are inextricably bound in Red Wing, Minnesota. The town’s location on a bend in the Mississippi River, surrounded by fertile farmland, meant it was an ideal place for a riverboat port, grain mills, and all the businesses that supported these industries. In the 1880’s, more wheat was traded through Red Wing than anywhere else in the US. And in
the cold winters between growing seasons, the people who settled the town found diversion in skiing, crafts, and the arts.
 
Theodore B. Sheldon was a wealthy Red Wing grain baron who made his fortune in the booming days of the late 1800’s. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Sheldon bestowed $83,000 to his town with the stipulation that it be put to some good public use. The funds went towards the construction of a grand theater, which was completed in 1904, four years after Sheldon’ s death, and named in his honor, the T.B. Sheldon Memorial Auditorium. For years it played host to the traveling shows that were popular at the time, a chance for Red Wing’s hardworking citizens to put on their “good” clothes and polish up their shoes for a night out. Today it still stands downtown, hosting arts performances as one of the oldest theaters in the state of Minnesota.
Our latest boot is named for T.B. Sheldon, and we think it’s a fitting tribute to the spirit of his legacy. The Sheldon is still a Red Wing boot, built to the high standards we apply to everything we make—Goodyear welt construction, triple-stitch details and quality leather that will last a lifetime. But that leather is our premium Featherstone, rich and supple, with a smooth finish. A low-profile Roccia sole provides some traction on mud and snow without drawing too much attention, and we build the Sheldon around a more tapered last for a sleeker, dressier appearance than our more rough-and-tumble boots.
Red Wing is a town where hard work meets high art, where “farm to table” is taken literally. Things need to be versatile and low maintenance. This is where we live and these are the principles behind our boots, like the Sheldon. With a little bit of care, they’ll age as well as you, maybe even enough to be called, “distinguished”. And Friday night, after the work week’s over, they’ll pair well with a jacket and, if you’re bold, even a tie when you head downtown for a night at the theater. We like to think T.B. Sheldon would approve.

Irish Setter Limited Series

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In the postwar years of the last century, Red Wing Shoe Company introduced a 9-inch lace-up boot for sportsmen—bird and deer hunters who spent autumn days in the woods and marshes of North America. The boot called the Style No. 954, made use of leather tanned with the bark of sequoia trees that gave it a distinctive deep reddish-orange color known as “Oro Russet”. It was so similar to the coat of a certain breed of hunting dog that it was given the name, “Irish Setter”, in our 1950 catalog and it quickly became a popular boot.

In 1952, the Irish Setter evolved further, taking on a form that has come to be synonymous with Red Wing ever since. Retaining the distinctive moc toe of the 954, the new 8-inch Style No. 877 replaced its predecessor’s heel with a wedge sole made from a white crepe rubber that promised to be quiet underfoot in the woods. This sole had been used on shoes before but the No. 877 Irish Setter was the first to use it on a tall hunting boot. In addition to its benefits for the stalking hunter, its comfort also found favor on the job site and soon the Irish Setter was seen in the factories and on the scaffolds of a growing America.


Since the 1950s, the Irish Setter changed little from its origins. A 6-inch version and a few other colors were introduced, as well as some subtle new construction techniques but otherwise, it remained the same boot that was ceremonially presented to President Eisenhower in 1960. By the 1990s, the original No. 877 became simply known as the “Classic Work Boot”, while the Irish Setter name branched off for an entire family of hunting boots made by Red Wing.

A few years ago, we embarked on a project to recreate the iconic Irish Setter boot, as close to its original form as possible, for our Japanese market, where Red Wing has long enjoyed a loyal following. It was an ambitious undertaking. We dusted off old machines at our Minnesota factory, called in help from retired workers, and experimented with tanning methods that could recreate the original Oro Russet color but adhere to modern environmental practices. Finally, after three years, the boot made its debut. And now we’re bringing it back to the American market.

The new limited series Irish Setter appears as if out of a time machine from 1952. In addition to its matched color, which we’re now calling “Gold Russet Sequoia”, the boot has all the exacting details of its historic forebear. The “Red Wing” name is embossed on the inside quarter of the boot, the moc toe is finished with a distinctive rectangular bar-tack stitch, and the backstay chain-stitch is once again done on our ancient Puritan Stitch machine, which has its origins in the 1890s. We use the same mahogany and sage thread of the original, the top band is double-stitched, and the laces are leather instead of Taslan. All of these features are subtle differences from our standard No. 877 Classic Work Boot but they add up to an Irish Setter that is both unique and true to its name. Finally, to finish it off, we’ve added the traditional woven “Irish Setter” label inside the tongue and the boots come in a box that features the original logo and text from the 1950s.

While the limited series Irish Setter boots will no doubt be coveted by collectors who want a piece of history, these are Red Wing boots, after all, built for a lifetime of service. Like the faithful dog for which they’re named, they’ll come out of the box eager to head into the woods when the leaves start to fall in autumn, not afraid to get dirty. And we’d have it no other way.

Faces of Red Wing | Christina Giordani

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Christina Giordani
Christina Giordani

 

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Southern California in a suburb north of Los Angeles where I was very connected to the natural world through surfing, hiking and exploring but had little connection to my food. When I moved to San Francisco at the age of eighteen my world opened up and agriculture and the connection to food producers found its way into my heart.

If someone asked you about your profession how would you respond?

My profession is a mix of creating a path for myself and walking through the doors that opened for me. I have developed a profession that is hard to define, it’s a mix of expertise and constant education. I am an Agrarian Innovator who helps farmers, ranchers and producers tell their story and develop their businesses, yet at the same time I learn from all these skilled and brilliant people I come in contact with.

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What does a normal day look like for you?

No day is ever the same. One morning I may be at a ranch assisting with sheering sheep or at a farm harvesting potatoes and in the afternoon doing a tasting with a chef. The next day I may be at the butchers in the morning and producing a video shoot focused on sharing the story and passion of a 4th generation farmer in the afternoon. I juggle multiple projects and clients at a time so it isn’t a rare thing to see me in a field on my cell phone responding to emails and making calls with whatever service I can find.

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?

The people. It takes a very special person to raise, grow or produce food for others.

What lead you to farm and ranch work?

A bunch of little things led me here, but the most significant of those was my friendships in college with people who grew up on farms. I would visit their homes and fall in love with the lifestyle and leave wanting to know more about why they lived that way and how I could someday be a part of it.

Why grass fed?

I genuinely believe in being aware of the what the animals you eat are eating. I have seen what grass-fed and finished looks like especially in the open lands where forage is a mix of wild grasses and flowers. What that animal eats comes through in the meat. Meat has terroir too.

Why do you think it is important for people to eat food that is produced locally?

When we eat locally we support the people in our communities that have committed their life to providing for others. We reduce the distance that food has to travel to get to market. We are able to understand better how and why that food is grown and make more educated choices. We are then consuming more sustainably.

What are some of the obstacles for a woman in the ranching world?

Having your own identity. Not being someone’s wife or daughter but your own woman who paved her own way.

Finding workwear made to fit a woman.

Which Red Wing boots are you sporting?

Black Engineer

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FOAM LEATHER CLEANER

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We’ll be the first to admit that Red Wing boots look good with a little dirt on them. After all, our origins are in factories, mines, forests and fields, where mud and dust are plentiful. But every now and then you’ve got to clean up—call it a “leather re-boot”—and to help with that, Red Wing Heritage offers our new Foam Leather Cleaner. Now, cleaning your boots can be almost as easy and fun as getting them dirty.

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Besides making your boots look good, cleaning also protects the leather to ensure it lasts for many years. If dirt and mud are left on your boots for long periods, it can dry out and break down the leather, causing it to crack, which makes boots difficult to restore. Our Foam Leather Cleaner works on every pair of Red Wing Heritage boots, from the muddy Moc Toes you wore mushroom hunting to your dusty Pecos that put in miles on the motorcycle.

RedWingFoamCleaner

To use the Foam Leather Cleaner, you just mix two capfuls with three ounces of water and stir or shake until it’s good and foamy. Then apply it to your boots with a sponge, scrubbing the most stubborn stains with a cloth. Then just wipe off the excess and let the boots dry. Once they’re clean, your boots are ready for conditioning so they’re protected for further adventures. Then, it’s time to get them dirty all over again.

Faces of Red Wing | Django Kroner

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Django Kroner_Red Wing Heritage

Django Kroner is most at home among trees, specifically those in the forests of Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. But “at home” means something quite literal for this woodsman. Because Kroner actually lives in the trees, up in the branches, in treehouses he builds with his own hands. So passionate is he about this experience that Kroner wants to share it with others who seek a new perspective on things, particularly one many feet off the ground.

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“What I like about treehouses is, they ignite this really old flame in anyone,” he says, “It’s something that sparks your inner child.” Kroner and his company, Canopy Crew, build custom treehouses in addition to renting out two of his own, The Sylvan Float and The Observatory. The two arboreal abodes, which feature a mix of modern amenities with a decidedly rustic charm, are only the beginning though. Kroner’s master plan is to build a “treehouse village” where people can come and hear the creak of limbs and fall asleep while being rocked by the wind.

Kroner grew up in the Red River Gorge, hiking, camping, and building forts in the woods on vacations with his family. “Here you just lose track of the normal pace of everyday life and things slow way down,” he says of its appeal.

Roughneck 8146
Roughneck Style no. 8146

 

It’s not just living in the trees that slows down the pace. Building the treehouses themselves takes time, involving hauling materials through the forest, choosing suitable host trees, and then building the structures using hand tools, pulleys and a lot of rope. It’s a long process that requires great patience and a lot of care.

“I’m going to build with the best craftsmanship and put in the most thought as possible, and pour myself into it,” Kroner says, describing his uncompromising approach. It’s no surprise then, that Django Kroner wears Red Wing boots, which are not only rugged enough to stand up to the rigors of the work but are built with much of the same ethos as the treehouses—patient craftsmanship with a healthy respect for hard work and the outdoors. Red Wings are also right at home in the forest, whether in the undergrowth or up in the canopy. Just like Django Kroner.

Messing with a good thing: new 8830 and 8883

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8 in Moc No. 8830
8 in Moc No. 8830

 

Don’t mess with a good thing. These words ring particularly true to us. After all, we’ve been making a lot of our boots the same way for over half a century. Take our 877 for instance. The 8-inch oro-colored moc toe boot with the white Traction-Tred outsole was introduced in 1953 and has since become an icon and the one most people think of when they hear, “Red Wing”. But after 63 years we thought it might be nice to add another color. The result? The 8830, in our Copper Rough & Tough leather, made for those who want their iconic Red Wings just a little bit different.

6 in Moc No. 8883
6 in Moc No. 8883

 

The same goes for our new 8883 that’s another twist on a midcentury boot. Based on our classic Norwegian-welt style 6-inch work boot that’s been around since the Eisenhower administration, we decided to shake things up and add a version in our Concrete Rough & Tough leather.

Don’t worry, we haven’t changed anything else. Both the 8830 and the 8883 are still the same durable work boots, stitched together out of S.B. Foot leathers in Red Wing, Minnesota like we’ve been doing for over a hundred years. But while we believe in not messing with a good thing, we also believe that change can be good. We just take a little bit longer.

Camouflage Moc Toe – 8884

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Red Wing boots have a long history in the outdoors. The same features that farm and factory workers prized in our sturdy footwear have also made them ideal companions in the marshes and forests on the feet of hunters and naturalists alike. So it only makes sense that, just in time for fall, we’re making our beloved moc toe boot in a camouflage pattern leather.

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The 8884 boot still sports the 6-inch triple-stitched leather upper, Traction Tred rubber outsole, and Goodyear welt construction but now they’ll match your fall hikes even better, thanks to a Mossy Oak® camouflage pattern of autumn leaves that conjures the forests like the ones around our home in southern Minnesota. When you wear them in the woods, you’ll blend in, and when you wear them around town, you’ll stand out.

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Available now at limited retail locations.