My love of Red Wing began early one Saturday morning when I was thirteen years old. My father came into my room and woke me up and drove me to the Red Wing store in my hometown on the East Side of Cleveland to get my first pair of work boots. The excitement of the gift of work boots from my dad quickly faded when I realized that I was then being conscripted into weekends and summers of manual labor. What I leaned about working for my dad was sort of surprising to me; I loved working outside and I loved manual labor. When the job was done, you are done. And each day held huge feelings of accomplishment. It was through this experience that my life long appreciation and connection to the Red Wing Shoe Company was forged.
A great part of buying a Goodyear-welted boot was the fact that I could have them re-soled, and even have it done multiple times. When you are doing physical work on your feet all day, it doesn’t take you long to realize that breaking in new boots adds a seriously unwanted wrinkle into earning a paycheck. My solution was to own two pairs of Red Wings. When the soles on one pair would wear out, I would send them in to be re-soled and would wear the back up pair while they were away. So if a pair was at the factory being re-crafted, the other pair would be comfortably on my feet. For me, breaking in new boots on the job was a thing of the past.
In 2005 I picked up the pictured pair of 100 year anniversary 1905s at the Red Wing work store in my hometown. Back in ’05 I was living in New York and was no longer harnessing the wonders of hydraulics to smash things (professionally anyway), but I still loved wearing my Red Wings. Eventually my 875s needed to be redone and I shipped them straight back to the factory in Minnesota. Since we (my marketing company Paul + Williams; full disclosure) work with Red Wing now, I asked some folks there to snap some photos of my 1905s while they were being re-crafted so I could share the transformation here.
The process is pretty significant as you can see from the photos below. The truly amazing thing is, the boots come back literally better than new. They fit you perfect and are as comfortable as ever — but have an entirely new outsole. It’s a wonderful thing. For this service Red Wing charges $95 (which includes shipping both ways). To me it is like getting a brand new pair of the most comfortable boots. I’ve had boots go through this process five, six, seven times and they only get better with age.
Little did I know that my dad would impart so much wisdom that fateful Saturday morning, but I sure am happy he did.