January 25, 2012

Favorite Shoes: Better Than New | Re-crafting the Red Wing 875

2005 Red Wing 875 Before

One of life's many small pleasures is the pleasure that comes from a apir of fine shoes or boots once they are perfectly broken in. One of life's many small problems is that by the time the perfectly broken in state is reached with most shoes and boots those items of footwear are just about worn out.

Michael Williams @ A Continuous Lean knows how important it is to keep the shoes you love in your life. Especially after six years of breaking them in. Here's his fascinating photo-essay on refurbishing his Red Wing 875

"My love of Red Wing began early one Saturday morning when I was thirteen years old. My father came into my room and woke me up and drove me to the Red Wing store in my hometown on the East Side of Cleveland to get my first pair of work boots..... In 2005 I picked up the pictured pair of 100 year anniversary 875s at the Red Wing work store in my hometown. Back in ’05 I was living in New York and was no longer harnessing the wonders of hydraulics to smash things (professionally anyway), but I still loved wearing my Red Wings. Eventually my 875s needed to be redone and I shipped them straight back to the factory in Minnesota. ... The process is pretty significant as you can see from the photos below. The truly amazing part of this process is, the boots come back literally better than new."

2005 Red Wing 875 After

For the other 27 stages of refurbishment: THE FULL ESSAY IS HERE.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at January 25, 2012 12:40 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

That's wonderful. There's a shoe repair shop right by one of the germ pits where I take my kid to play sometimes. They seem to do a small but steady business. I always wonder what kind of shoes you'd have these days that you'd rather get them repaired than replaced; now I know.

Posted by: Julie at January 25, 2012 3:03 PM

My father does this with not shoes. He takes an old piano carcass, restrings it, retools it, scavenges for clean ivories and black keys. He might take a year or more to rebuild a Steinway, but it's worth the wait. He often tells this funny story about how his skin-flint miser of an older brother bought an old Steinway in need of repair at some estate sale for 4 grand, sold it to him for 5, and after he cleaned it up and restored it, it was worth 40 grand.
Now that's a steal!
Oh, and "apir" in the first line should be restored to its former spelling glory.

Posted by: Jewel at January 25, 2012 3:32 PM

Really, that was spam?

Posted by: Jewel at January 25, 2012 3:32 PM

What a great reminder about those wonderful work boots. I used to marvel at how comfortable they were.

Posted by: MarkH at January 25, 2012 4:13 PM

Interesting that you should have this post about old shoes/boots and the Van Gogh post up at the same time. My favorite Van Gogh work is one of a lonely pair of work boots. I first saw it at a traveling Van Gogh exhibit when I was a teenager and it sparked a life long love of fine art.

Posted by: Sara (Pal2Pal) at January 25, 2012 6:21 PM

I get such a thrill out of taking a well made, well loved pair of leather shoes to a cobbler to have them resoled and fixed up.

I appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the original product, and the skill of the man making the repairs to restore to me an item that brings comfort into my life.

I remember the first time I had this done. It actually brought a high to my day. Maybe that's weird, but that's how it is.

Posted by: pdwalker at January 25, 2012 7:48 PM

Beauty. http://youtu.be/R7Skw6Wkxqc

Posted by: Jewel at January 25, 2012 9:36 PM

Here's a subject close to my heart. As a young Marine Infantry Officer going through the airborne school in Fort Benning, GA, I invested in a pair of Jump Boots. I still have them, although resoled time and again, the uppers have given way to dry rot. They traveled the world with me, and although I must have gone through twenty pair of combat boots, these are the only ones I keep. Oh, BTW, they're Corcorans.

Posted by: Casca at January 27, 2012 6:58 AM

"well made, well loved pair of leather shoes to a cobbler to have them resoled and fixed up. "

There used to be a cobbler a mile from me. He was fourth generation - his mom used to give him a dime when he was four years old and he would take the bus to the shop to hang out with his dad and grandfather. He worked miracles on shoes.

But too many people either buy crap shoes not worth repairing (I'm looking at you, made in China shoes) or don't know you can repair shoes.

Bless her heart, I had a friend complain that she would have to buy new boots because she had scratched her old ones.

"You couldn't polish out the scratch?" I asked.

"Polish?" she asked. She had never heard of polishing her shoes.

Yes, she was able to save them.

Posted by: The gold digger at January 31, 2012 9:21 AM