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The History of the Lineman Boot

Not as famous as some other styles in our collection, this boot has been an integral part of our legacy and arguably one of the most historically significant style of boots we have ever made. 

A real favourite of ours here at the store, partly for its comfort and partly for its obscurity. The Lineman boot has been around since the 40's and there have been numerous variations , one element however, has stayed throughout, the characteristic "lace-to-toe' design. 

Style 2996 in Cigar Retan (2 years of wear)

The name and construction of the boot comes from its history as a work boot with a very specific purpose. In the early part of the 20th century more and more homes across the USA were capitalising on the expanding electricity network. As a result, the demand for workers needed to tend to the power lines increased dramatically and thus the Lineman was born. Being a Lineman was no walk in the park though, in the era from the 20's - 40's one in three were killed whilst on the job, so a high level of safety and durability was needed with their equipment, especially their footwear as in most occasions their feet were the only point of contact with the top of the pole. They preferred the fit of boots where the laces extended all the way down to the toe, this allowed the boot to fit tightly around the feet whilst retaining comfort for the wearer meaning a Lineman had more manoeuvrability and a better feeling under foot whilst atop a telegraph pole.

Photo Courtesy of Pinterest

The basic design of the Lineman has changed little since the early days, with all having  a variation on the "lace-to-toe" design. Height of boots depended completely on what sort of work the Lineman would be doing. There have been shorter 6 - 8 inch boots to the much taller boots up to a staggering 18 inches! One of the main points of development over the years has been the sole unit. Seen below in this excerpt from a 1951 catalogue is the style 977 also known as the "Hi-Liner". This early iteration was equipped with a leather outer sole and heel which could be slippy in wet conditions and not as durable as some other soles especially with the advancement of rubber technology the leather soles simply wouldn't do. So Red Wing reacted and in the mid '50's the style was replaced by the 677 which still kept the same upper design but the leather soles were replaced with a new compound comprising of rubber and cork. 

Style 977 "The Hi-Liner" in 1951 Catalogue

Style 677 (50's-60’s archive boot)

Green "Chemigum" sole seen on style 677

This pair we have in store are dated to the mid '60's and has this compound sole. The design is the same as can be seen in our current catalogue known as the Chemigum sole seen on the Merchant collection. You'll notice the sole is green and this is thought to be because of an agreement between the Union of Lineman and the shoe makers. The Union wanted all brands producing the Lineman boots to have a feature that showed a commitment to safety and so the majority of Lineman boots produced in that period had a green sole. However why the colour green was chosen is still uncertain. After the 677 came the 650. A new design that alters from the previous two, it has the same lace row and side stitch design that can be seen on some of the modern Lineman collection like the 2904, our RWSS exclusive. The 650 also has a green sole, this time the construction was a cork compound design that we see on the 8111 Iron Ranger. 

 

Style 650 (60's archive boot) with green cork sole

Lace row and side stitch of style 650

Lace row and side stitch of style 2904

Today, the Lineman is left for more exclusive and limited edition boots rather than a constant part of the collection  which adds to that rarity and obscurity that we love. As mentioned above the current Limited edition is the style 2904 which takes its design from boots like the 650. Our favourite Lineman releases from the last few years have have got to be the "wide panel' versions from 2016 and 2017. Styles 2995 and 2996 based of boots from the 50's seen below. 

1952 Advert showing style 769 (brown) and 606 (black)

Style 2995 in Black Retan Deadstock Archive boot

Style 2996 in Cigar Retan Deadstock archive boot

The 2996 in Cigar Retan in particular was so well received by you guys that we still get asked for them two years on! The future of the Lineman boot will probably still be restricted to limited releases but if they're as cool as past releases we're definitely down with that. So whats next then? Personally us guys at the store would love to see these crazy 2997's from Japan in Olive and Maroon Mohave!

Photo courtesy of Red Wing Japan - Style 2997 in Olive and Maroon Mohave

If you love Lineman boots as much as we do come into store and check out the styles we have in store and our archive boots that we have collected over the years.

 Style 2904 in Oro-Original - Current Collection, available in store

 

 Vintage archive boots


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Sizing

Sizing guide and fitting instructions 


For those of you that are new to the brand, for your consideration our boots do fit much larger than other brands. More often than not you will drop half to a full size in our boots. But, this does all depend on foot shape whether you have a broader or narrower fitting.
If you would like more in depth information before buying please do contact us at the store and we will do our best to ensure you purchase the correct size for your foot shape.

 020 7287 5007 or email us at info@redwinglondon.com.

 

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