Red Wing and Dr. Martens are two popular global brands. Even if you don’t know much about boots, you’ve probably seen young people or even your favorite celebrity in one of these brands.
Why you choose one over the other depends on several factors, including style, construction, and budget. Dr. Martens is a classic punk boot popular with a younger crowd and rockstars, while Red Wing is sturdier with a work boot design.
This article gives you a side-by-side analysis of each brand’s history and manufacturing materials and processes.
We also answer some common questions and give you our recommendations from both brands. In the end, you can choose the brand that suits you.
1. Red Wing Shoes
Red Wing Shoes is an American shoe company founded in 1905 by Charles H. Beckman. The company is famous for producing premium leather shoes worn worldwide by some top celebrities and famous people, and for its durable work boots.
Red Wing was once the primary company manufacturing and supplying American soldiers with boots during WWI and II. The company maintained its brand over the decades, remaining one of the top boots manufacturers in the U.S.
History of the Brand
A pair of Red Wing leather Moc Toe boots
Red Wing footwear company is a family-owned business founded in 1905 in Red Wing, Minnesota. The company is famous for manufacturing high-quality leather boots for heavy-duty applications.
That said, the company recently expanded its line of products to include footwear designed for specific uses, like slip-resistant and athletic-style shoes designed for the service industry.
Although Red Wing has many other modern lifestyle footwear options for men and women, its core focus remains the production of work boots.
In its early years, some of the major milestones in Red Wing shoe production included Gloria, the original women’s shoes in 1926, and the 877 Moc Toe in 1952.
In 1987, Red Wing acquired S.B. Foot Tanning Company in Red Wing, Minnesota. The company supplies fine leather used in crafting Red Wing footwear.
The majority of Red Wings boots are handcrafted using American material in its main plants in Red Wing, Minnesota, and Potosi, Missouri.
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Materials and Manufacturing
Red Wing follows traditional construction techniques from start to finish. According to the company, it takes about 230 steps to make Red Wing Heritage footwear, and it emphasizes precision to ensure quality. (source)
Red Wing uses leather from its S.B. Foot Tanning Company for its footwear. The tannery prepares and treats the leather before transporting it about a mile away to the main manufacturing plant in Red Wing, Minnesota.
An experienced and well-trained team then identifies the best leather pieces and cuts them carefully into different shoe sizes.
The pieces are sewn using old Puritan sewing machines to form the footwears’ upper.
The sewn leather pieces are fitted into different foot-shaped lasts to create various styles and sizes. While still secured over the last, the footwear is stitched or welted down, depending on the design. The outsole is glued or stitched manually to the midsole.
Most Red Wing work boot styles also use steel, aluminum, or other tough non-metallic materials around the toe area for enhanced safety and puncture resistance. All these options meet the ASTM F 2413-11 standard.
The final stage is inspection. Then, the shoes are cleaned and polished by shoe finishers before packaging.
Some Red Wing technologies include:
- Urethane Sole Technology (SuperSole);
- Goodyear welt construction;
- Oil-resistant sole;
- Comfort Force Footbed;
- Stitchdown construction;
- Sweat-proof insole.
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Our Favorite Red Wing Pairs
Below are two of our favorite Red Wing boots in the men’s and women’s categories to check out.
Red Wing Heritage Men’s Iron Ranger 6-Inch Vibram Boot
A pair of Red Wing Iron Ranger boots
Red Wing Men’s Iron Ranger is a 100% leather boot with a triple-stitch quality. The boot features an oil-resistant sole, a bump toe for enhanced resistance, and more room in the toe box for comfort.
The boot is easy to maintain using a soft bristle brush and warm water to remove any stains. Wipe off any residue using a dry piece of cloth.
Red Wing Women’s Style 3361 Heritage Silversmith Short Boot
Image Source: RedWingShoes.com
Red Wing Women’s Silversmith Short Boot features Goodyear leather welt construction, Vibram 430 Mini-Lug outsole, and is made in the USA. The upper leather is rough and tough with detailed stitching.
Red Wing Boots F.A.Q.s
Many people want to know where Red Wing boots are made and whether they are worth the money. Below we address the two questions.
Are Red Wing Boots Worth the Money?
Red Wing boots are iconic footwear with quality construction using thick leather that guarantees many years of service. The boots are versatile and can be paired with many things throughout the year.
They fit better, and you can also replace the sole. Although a little pricey, they are worth the investment in our opinion.
Where Are Red Wing Boots Made?
Red Wing makes the majority of its boots in Red Wing, Minnesota, U.S.A., and Potosi, Missouri, U.S.A. The materials are sourced locally, but the company also imports some of the materials.
Some of the brand’s footwear is also made in Asia, in countries such as Vietnam, China, and Cambodia.
2. Dr. Martens
Dr. Martens or Doc Martens is a British footwear brand headquartered in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, England.
The footwear brand is famous for its unique air-cushioned sole, yellow stitching, and welted construction. Dr. Martens manufactures its footwear across multiple countries, including China, the U.K., and Vietnam.
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History of the Brand
Dr. Martens 1460 Leather Boot with AirWair technology
The story of Dr. Martens boots begins in 1945. The German Dr. Klaus Martens, unfortunately, suffered a foot injury at age 25.
He came up with the idea of Dr. Martens boots after noticing the standard boots were not comfortable on his injured foot. He improved the boots by adding air-cushioned soles to aid his foot recovery.
Martens got some leather from a cobbler’s shop and used it to make prototype boots with air-cushioned soles. Dr. Herbert Funk, Martens’ old university friend who was also a mechanical engineer, was impressed with the shoes Martens had created.
The two partnered immediately and started producing unique shoes using discarded military supplies. Formal production began in 1947, and they sold mostly to older women who were particularly intrigued by the comfortable soles.
Sales grew very fast, and by 1952, they opened a factory in Munich. Fast forward to 1959, Martens and Funk started advertising the iconic footwear in international magazines.
Dr. Martens had a breakthrough in the 1960s when R Griggs Group Ltd, an English shoe manufacturing company, acquired a license to start manufacturing Martens’ shoes.
The brand made some modifications to the shoes, and by April 1, 1960, the iconic eight-eyelet 1460 Dr. Martens was born. The revolutionary boot is still in production to date, alongside many other modern designs.
The company has seen major success and faced many challenges along the way, including legal battles related to trademark laws.
Today, Dr. Martens boots are made in the U.K. with some production happening overseas. In January 2021, the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange, valued at £3.7bn.
Materials and Manufacturing
Dr. Martens focuses on sustainability. The company aims to minimize greenhouse gas emissions across all its production stages. The three main materials used in manufacturing Dr. Martens boots include leather, polyester, and PVC.
The leather is (usually) thin and glossy and uses yellow stitches on the welt.
Dr. Martens’ soles are designed with stability in mind. They are wide and have great traction. The air pockets in AirWair soles make the boots more comfortable and durable.
The shoes are designed with better shock absorption to protect your feet from intense impact. Unfortunately, it’s a bit difficult to change Dr. Martens’ soles if they wear out before the upper.
Due to the materials used in manufacturing Dr. Martens’ upper, the boots are available in many colors, including red, white, yellow, black, and more.
Dr. Martens 1460 Pascal Leather Boot, Made in Vietnam
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Our Favorite Dr. Martens Pairs
Check out some of our favorite Dr. Martens boots below.
Dr. Martens Men’s 1460 DM’S Wintergrip Lace Up Boots
Image Source: DrMartens.com
The Men’s 1460 DM’S Wintergrip Lace Up Boots are grippy winter boots suited for snowy and icy surfaces. These water-resistant boots are easy to maintain with a simple wipe using a damp cloth.
Apply Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam to enhance the lifespan and give the boot a smooth shiny look.
Dr. Martens Women’s 1460 Serena Faux Fur Lined Lace-Up Boots
Image Source: DrMartens.com
The Women’s 1460 Faux Fur Lined Lace-Up Boots are stylish boots with soft faux fur lining to keep your feet warm in cold weather.
The boots are made from water-resistant leather and feature an AirWair heel loop. The comfortable sole is supportive over long-distance walks.
Dr. Martens Boots F.A.Q.s
Many people ask where Dr. Martens manufactures its boots and whether you should consider buying them. Below we answer these two questions.
Are Dr. Martens Boots Worth the Money?
Dr. Martens’ boots are comfortable, durable, and come in a wide variety of colors. The boots are also very stylish and pair well with various pants or dresses. If you love boots, you won’t regret spending your money on a pair of Dr. Martens.
Where Are Dr. Martens Boots Made?
Some Dr. Martens’ boots are made in England, where the brand also has its headquarters, while the rest of the company’s boots are produced overseas in Asia, in countries such as China, Vietnam, and Thailand.
3. Which Brand is Better?
Dr. Martens 1460 Leather Boot with Bouncing Soles
Red Wing and Dr. Martens are two great boots designed with style, comfort, and durability in mind. Each brand has unique construction technology that uses different materials, and the designs are for different types of people.
Take, for example, the material used in the upper. Dr. Martens uses a thinner and glossier leather, whereas Red Wing features a thick, tough leather suited for intense applications.
Dr. Martens has good traction and shock absorption capabilities, but the soles are hard to replace. Red Wing also has impressive sole technology. The soles are durable and replaceable if they wear out before the upper.
Dr. Martens boots emphasize style and are more associated with young people. Red Wing boots are also fashionable. Many celebrities have been spotted donning Red Wing boots. However, they are more work boots and give a rugged urban look when paired with jeans.
Overall, many people will agree that Red Wing boots are more rewarding than Dr. Martens. They are durable and fashionable and will serve you for ages. An important deciding factor for many people is that you can still replace the soles if they wear out before the upper. On the other hand, they’re pricier so keep that in mind if you’re on a budget.