DNA Deep-dive: TOWER and the history of Red Wing

DNA Deep-dive: TOWER and the history of Red Wing

Without jumping the gun, the founding moment of Red Wing's success marked a moment in footwear history - in no short terms, the birth of heritage. Red Wing wearers across Europe and Japan have known of the brand's prowess since its mid-70s boom.

First and foremost, lifestyle and leather were the two 'L's at Red Wing forefront, the two pivotal pillars that pulled together in laying foundations for the brand as a whole. For over a century now, each stitch and tanned leather panel leaving production has been put to the test - but, it's about time you learned where such prestige and storied design comes from.

As all great stories begin, today's novel takes us back to 1905 Minnesota, where the USA-based brand began life as a small though thick-skinned family-owned business, developed by shoe merchant Charles H. Beckman in an area called Red Wing - literally. Their target consumer? The beloved local miners and farmers, those requiring a little more kick to their boot.

World War I called for credible, waterproof footwear, the sort of boots to keep your toes dry from morning until night, hence the introduction of one 1088 trench boot. Their ability to protect soldiers from cold, moist trenches received almost immediate recognition, gaining elite status post-war, too. To support the farmers directly, the 9111 boot was launched; featuring a plain toebox and low tread sole to prevent undercarriage build-up. You'll recognised these, get googling...

Soon came Gloria, their debut women's boot and the 877 Moc Toe almost three decades later - however, before all of this the iconic 6 inch Moc Toe was born. You may have heard this referred to as Red Wing's signature model, calf buckles, moccasin toe and all.

Now for two TOWER icons - strap in, we're not going to be leaving empty handed!

In 1953, the Work Chukka launched as a slightly lighter, diligently style 3140 work boot; instead of catering to the physical pressures exerted by those trekking through fields or pushing back on the front line, Red Wing tapped into a carpenters’ world, featuring none other than a crepe sole.

Six years later, boom. The coveted - yes, it’s that special - 214 boot drops, in all of its crimped edge glory. This one wasn’t for the fields, it wasn’t for well-refined material artists and certainly wouldn’t face the frontline; factory workers, we’re calling you! Donning a typically high-cut eight-holed boot format, the subtly moc-toe’d 214 was designed for comfort alone, integrating a defined heel for superior ladder safety.

So, that’s it. The history of a boot-residing titan - the essentials piecing together everything we love, loved and continue to admire about architectural footwear design. Red Wing has been about it for a while, that’s not to say they’re any less experienced, but they’ve matured.