Back to the future: Red Wing Supersoles

Guest post #2 by Scratch

I considered that this may bring Well Dressed Dad’s blog to boot overload – but of course, a man can never talk or know too much about stout footwear. And besides, I’m excited.

The Red Wing Supersole has a nostalgic place in my heart from my younger days. Singular appearance and actually tougher than old boots.

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Without raking over old ground too much, the Supersole after becoming extinct in Europe has been reawakened and reborn – the perfect antidote to the plethora of white wedged soles that seem to be hanging off the bottom of every shoe these days.

I have coveted these new Supersoles since their release; they’ve been cropping up on a few retailers websites and I cannot deny I have been doing my best impression of a small child smearing its nose on a sweet shop window. Cut a long story short, I spotted Red Wing themselves appeared to have sold out on-line. Clearly there is no time to wait.

I sauntered rapidly down to a local shop here – indeed the said same shop I bought my last pair from over 15 years ago – continued the tradition and got myself a pair.

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I swore I’d never get to a point where I was one of these people who’d pen tedious internet things about comparing the new with the old but I’m afraid I cannot help myself. Please only read on if you are a boot nerd or have career aspirations in the cobbling sector.

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They are a beautiful boot. Oh man they look good. The sole is absolutely true to the original – robust and industrial; and box fresh, they are just so crisp, particularly when compared to my old boys.

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The differences are small but they are there – this is not a 100% reproduction of the OG. On side by side inspection one spots that the yoke on the heel is straighter and wider on the new boot, the black leather padding is noticeably rounder and the boots no longer have the Red Wing branding embossed on the outer heel panel.

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Also, like all modern Red Wings, the tongue doesn’t have the size, model and width fitting stamped onto the tongue. Instead both shoes have a larger fabric label stitched on the inside of the tongue letting you know what you’ve got there.

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These particular boots have a fearsome reputation when it comes to breaking them in. They have reduced grown men to tears and shredded many heel. Since I am not made of particularly stern stuff and have a pitiful pain threshold one must perform as many pre-emptive comfort strikes as possible.

The shoes are a dull, almost orange when fresh out the box. By the time you get them you must take into account that they are most likely already at least 6-12 months old and have been quietly drying out in their box. They’re thirsty chum. Give them a drink.

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So, my normal routine is to give them a slathering of Red Wing Pine Pitch boot oil. It is a lighter treatment that absorbs rapidly and helps to moisten the leather. Once this has dried it is then time to break out the Mink Oil – which to my mind is perhaps the single most and best wax for boots.

This is thoroughly massaged into the leather with a cloth and the boots are left to drink their fill overnight. The next day I wipe any excess mink oil from them and then buff with a brush.

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And POW! The dull orange becomes the vibrant Oro Russet which on that lovely black sole is what this boot is all about.

This process is a bit of a fiddle but I cannot deny being sad enough to enjoy it. The result is a healthy pair of boots that are that bit softer to break in, that bit more resistant to marks and water and well, you have that self-satisfaction that you’re treating them right & starting as you mean to go on. These boys will do a fine job of looking after you over the years – surely the least you can do is get this friendship off on the right foot and return the favour.

I’m really, really pleased with my new Supersoles – Red Wing have done a great job in resurrecting an icon here. How long they will be around for sale I know not, but I get the impression that stocks are not abundant. How long they will be on my feet for? Let’s check back in 2028.

If you enjoyed this piece, you’ll probably enjoy my first guest post: “A boy and his Red Wings

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10 Responses to “Back to the future: Red Wing Supersoles”

    • Jason

      I found some for £73 in a shop in Minneapolis and took a chance,,,,…. £30 shipping, had them sent to work address so they looked like they were for working. Result, no import tax and a pair of 10 hole original 404 for just over a one-er.
      God bless US eBay.

      Reply
  1. Brian in Alberta

    Wow Scratch, that is a good deal! And they have them in my size in black. And Inventory is Canadian so no problems with duties and shipping. Very tempting! Red Wing is not my favorite maker but the only thing actually stopping me from buying a pair is that I just took delivery of a pair of Daytons and I have to keep some semblance of control when buying boots. (http://www.daytonboots.com/product/hard-toe-toughie/)

    Reply
  2. Scratch

    Cwor – score for Brian!
    For that price I wouldn’t think twice chap. But I suspect you may have more of a semblance than I when it comes to such emotive matters.

    I have had a pair of the black ones back in the old days too and I must admit, never liked really liked them. The black leather always seemed sort of “glossy” and “plastic”. They are quality full grain uppers of course but I never really liked the look of them when I wore them. I donated them to a chum in the end after very little wear.

    Reply

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