After years of development, we’re proud to announce the release of our line of small leather goods. We sat down with the mastermind behind the new wallets, zipper pouches and lanyards, Danny Karp, Senior Product Creator-Accessories for Red Wing Heritage, to learn more about what went into creating this line.
What are you most excited for with this product rollout?
I’m excited to see these goods that we’ve put so much time into developing go out into the world and get put to work. Knowing that our customers will be able to confidently count on these products every day makes the all the work worthwhile.
How did you decide on small leather goods?
This is a logical extension for Red Wing. Not only do we make the best footwear in the world, but we make the best leathers in the world. Our loyal customers were looking for the next move from us, and here it is.
What were your priorities during the design process?
Stylistically, we knew that these products needed to be classic and timeless across the board, but designed and executed for owners today. From a practicality perspective, we don’t design for the sake of design. We don’t add embellishments and decorative stitching just for the look. Every stitch has a reason to be there, and same as our footwear, is built with purpose.
What was your creative process like?
The research that went into the line goes back a few seasons. I wanted to make sure that we could provide a product that would be globally embraced in regards to concept, design and overall quality. I studied leather goods manufacturers all over the world. Taking note of what they did well and where I saw room for improvement. We made a point to combine heavyweight leathers with long-lasting stitch techniques to create a line that will proudly stand in line with our footwear and bear the Red Wing name.
What was the most memorable part of this process for you?
I can remember walking into the factory for a meeting one morning and realizing that the craftsmen and craftswomen around me had actually begun production of the small leather goods. I took a moment to look around and at every step, you could see them putting their hearts into creating each piece. From shopping globally, to designing and making decisions that eventually became the “DNA” or key details of the entire leather goods collection, it was humbling to see it all finally come to life.
What was involved in the process of selecting and developing leathers?
We worked hand in hand with our Red Wing tannery team at SB Foot throughout the process. This leather was specifically made for our leather goods collection. We wanted leather that’s struck through, meaning that color goes through the entire thickness of the leather. The leather needed to be robust and rigid, and it needed to be aniline or naked, with no protective top coat sealants. All of these factors combine to create leather that can last for a really long time, while developing a unique patina and character over the years.
Some of the small leather goods are made with vegetable tanned leather. Could you share a little bit more about this type of leather?
We started using vegetable tanned leather in the Heritage belt program a few years ago. We source our veg tan leather from Hermann Oak tannery. Compared to other veg tan leathers, theirs is more robust and durable. This comes from the old world technique that they’ve used since they opened their doors in 1881. They don’t cut corners to accelerate die and stain penetration, instead they allow the leather the time to fully make the most of the preserving process. For the leather goods, we decided to use their bridle leather, as it will age and patina beautifully with use. This leather has a very light tan color when first cut, but over time, with the natural oils in the owner’s skin and sunlight, the leather will darken and develop a slight sheen as the oils and waxes come to the surface.
What can owners expect with these goods down the road?
An old mentor of mine had a saying “design with the end in mind.” This has always stuck with me and was the driving force that motivated all of the time on developing the leather, and dialing-in the construction details so that the leather will develop its own unique patina and distinct character that gets better with use. Owners will be able to look back at the memories that they created with their piece and be able to pass it on to the next generation.
What do you hope the legacy of these wallets will be?
Just like our footwear. Timeless, classic and passed down from generation to generation. When our fans talk about Red Wing they share stories through their footwear. This will be the same for the small leather goods–creating stories and memories that can be passed down from one generation to the next.
Red Wing Heritage small leather goods are now available online and at select Red Wing Heritage retailers.