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