There’s Oprah Winfrey, gracing the cover of the April O magazine, just as she does every month. Riffing on the issue’s environmental theme, she treks through the Amazon jungle wearing a bright red dress and a pair of Minnesota’s own Red Wing boots.
The sand-colored, nubuck leather Iron Rangers (from Red Wing’s Heritage line, $319.99) were originally designed for miners on Minnesota’s Mesabi Range, with a reinforced toe that perhaps protected Winfrey from snakebites during the photo shoot.
Winfrey isn’t the first celebrity to have discovered Red Wings — several big-name stars, including Eric Clapton, Ryan Gosling, Jeremy Renner, Orlando Bloom and Lady Gaga, have been known to wear them while riding motorcycles or just generally looking cool. But the omnipresent media mogul may be the boot company’s biggest PR coup.
Red Wing’s classic work boots, which are worn from Mideast oil fields to Midwest cornfields, as the company likes to say, still make up most of the company’s sales. But its newer Heritage designs, worn more for fashion than function by office workers who rarely encounter more rugged terrain than a carpet-clad skyway, are the fastest-growing portion of its business.
As much as local hipsters would like to claim the Red Wing trend, the Japanese actually started wearing the American-made work boots as a fashion statement back in the 1970s.