Red Wing Sole Moulds

What has a tongue that can’t speak, eyes that can’t see and a soul that can’t be saved? A Red Wing boot. Okay, the answer is just a shoe but the riddle still works.

Red Wing Shoes have been making high quality, rugged footwear since 1905. Within a decade of opening they were pumping out hundreds of thousands of pairs of boots a year and throughout World War I and World War II the company provided footwear for American soldiers. Today, the iconic brand has a cult following that includes celebrities and sports stars, such as Drake and David Beckham, and their wears are sold around the globe. That’s some legacy.

Sometimes when we buy stuff we neglect to realise how much work and effort really goes into making an item. To develop it from conception to product can take years and it is rarely a clean process, with ideas being chopped and changed as much as the material that brings them to fruition.

In the video below we get a glimpse at the true craftsmanship behind the sole of a Red Wing boot; a somewhat neglected part of footwear. Craig Holst, Red Wing’s Master Mould Maker, explains early on how having their own in house moulds is a more flexible and time efficient arrangement – meaning the company do not rely on outsourcing to craft an essential part of their product. It can take almost a week to produce a mould that is then used tens of thousands of times during production.

I like to see these behind the scenes videos. They remind us that not everything these days is CAD designed and machine built. There is still a large element of Red Wing’s range that involves trial and error, human judgement and getting your hands dirty. That’s a comforting thought; someone has focused all their expertise into the shoe I’m trying on in a store thousands of miles away.

Personally, I think it helps explain the desire I feel for such an item; not just because it looks good but because of the effort it’s taken to make it look good.

Looking good isn’t important, it’s everything.

Red Wing Sole Moulds