Redwing’s only London store, just off Carnaby street, is turning five this month. Bringing us all the mid-American, oiled, leather work boots we so desperately hanker for. What else would we wear our selvedge denim with or what compliments leather biker jackets and white t-shirts quite so well as a pair of Redwing’s?
Founded in 1905 by Charles Beckman, Redwing has a long and cherished history, originally built for workers in Minnesota at the time when work boots in a variety of sizes were hard to come by; they quickly became the nation’s go to work boot, developing footwear for the military into the First World War, and then returning to workwear in peacetime.
But what’s nice to see is aside from many heritage brands, who exist off an older impression of their name and change the recipe to suit the trend. Redwing, a bit of a strong silent type, have put little money into advertising and are still plugging away at what they do best, with little care for the trends or vogue. To this day most of the Redwing collection is contemporary protective workwear with a wing (forgive the pun) dedicated to the heritage pieces which helped them butter their bread in the beginning.
In my book, the boots which sit closest to my heart are the Iron Ranger 8085 or 8083, they're the kind of pieces that make you want to wear thick wool or tweed trousers and play baseball in the street, eat Hershey’s with the old packaging, and smoke cigarettes like they aren’t bad for you. They’re a complete relic of pure nostalgia and damn are they good.
The store itself, is on the corner of Newburgh street on the edge of Soho, it has an old world feel to it. Not large in size it reflects the humble nature of the bootmakers. Past the counter and along the hardwood floor, there is a small area in the back lit by electric lanterns, you are no longer in central London, with the low ceilings it lends itself to a mineshaft rest stop. It’s a cool store no question, and you end up just wanting to hang out and drink Lone Star or moon shine form enamel cups. Of course, all of this is brought to life by it's ambassadors, especially the boss; Paul, a big yet quiet guy, who breathes the brand and is in what one can only describe as a pursuit of quality, with a soft spot for a Vintage Rolex.
Go pay them a visit.
Words by Tom Heap