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What are Red Wing work boots?

What are Red Wing work boots?

In a nutshell

Red Wing is an American footwear brand which, since 1905, has been renowned for its heavy-duty leather boots. They were worn by American GIs in both World Wars and have protected the feet of millions of workers. Today, they’re what you reach for when you want to look rugged but feel comfortable.


The name comes from the town of Red Wing, Minnesota, where the brand founded its first factory. Its hard-wearing boots, with steel toe caps to protect against accidents, quickly became a favourite with America’s labourers and within a decade Red Wing was manufacturing more than 200,000 pairs a year. During the post-war industrial boom they became synonymous with American grit and work ethic, thanks to an ad campaign designed by artist Norman Rockwell.

Recently, the boots have found a second life outside factories. As men have gravitated towards workwear, Red Wings are now worn by men who appreciate craft and authenticity. Especially since they’re still Made in America and are still built to last longer than the person wearing them.

How to wear them well

Because Red Wings are still rugged enough to wear to war, they look best with clothes that are equally tough. “They’re not something you can easily wear with a suit,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “But they look brilliant with workwear. Things like cargo trousers, thick flannel shirts or utility jackets – clothes that were designed to perform a function – match the heaviness of the boots. But if you don’t actually work in a mine, be careful that you don’t overdo the look. As well as Red Wings, one piece of workwear is plenty. Stick to basics everywhere else, otherwise it can look like you’re in fancy dress.”