Working as a merchant in Red Wing, Minnesota at the beginning of the 20th century, Charles Beckman experienced the need for durable and comfortable boots first-hand. In 1905, when he couldn’t find boots to meet his needs, he started his own shoe company: The Red Wing Shoe Company. More than a century later, Red Wing Shoes has now developed “the Merchant” as a tribute to Charles Beckman. The Merchant is based on traditional work boots from the 1920’s, when Red Wing started making boots without toe reinforcement to provide a more comfortable fit without stress points. In 1929 20 out of the 50 styles came without a toe-box. The “no toe-box” provides flexibility and comfort around the toe area. Style #245 from 1920 is the oldest and closest Red Wing work boot to the Merchant. Style #245 was called “black chief” and was made without a toe-box. The black chief came with a plain toe and was raw cut at the quarter edge.
The historical work boot most similar to the Merchant is style 245 from 1920, which was made without a toe-box, but instead featured a plain toe and raw cut at the quarter edge. The Merchant is built on the 8 last, which is also used for the Blacksmith. But because of the missing toe-box, the Merchant has a slimmer look and a lower toe profile than the Blacksmith.
The Merchant is built on a Chemi Gum sole, which Red Wing has been using for work boots since 1964 and is now introducing in the Heritage line. Featuring a lower cork content than the Nitrile Cork sole, the Chemi Gum sole creates a clean, slim, and lightweight boot.
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