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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

The Cooper – Moc Toe, Reimagined

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The Cooper, Style No: 2954 & 2964
The Cooper, Style No: 2954 & 2964

 

The so called “Moc Toe” is arguably Red Wing’s most famous trait, found on boots dating back to the earliest days of the company. At first favored by sportsmen in the field, our famous Moc Toe 875 and 877 boots were later adopted as the footwear of choice by the  ironworkers and farmhands who were building and feeding America in the middle of the 20th century. Now, a new boot joins this legendary legacy—the Cooper.

Style No. 2964
Style No. 2964

 

Named for the woodworkers who build barrels and casks, the Cooper takes the classic silhouette of the Red Wing Moc Toe and adds a Vibram 430 Mini-Lug outsole. The Mini-Lug offers a greater measure of traction when you need it—in the mud and snow of the coming season—while keeping a low profile for more refined forays. And the rest of the Cooper is up for it too, with sturdy leathers from our S.B. Foot tannery that shrug off dirt, abrasion and moisture for a lifetime of service. Goodyear welt construction ensures durability and can be resoled as often as you wear them out, which won’t be easy to do, but it’s nice to know.

Style No. 2954
Style No. 2954

 

The Cooper is available in Amber Porter and Black Harness leather, civilized enough for the office, rugged enough for weekends at the cabin. It’s the iconic Red Wing Moc Toe boot, reimagined.

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